Lesson 3: The Major Prophets and You
God called Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel to record His words—His plans, promises and warnings for people then and now. What is the message of these Major Prophets for us today?
story of Isaiah's calling to be a prophet powerfully demonstrates the
source of prophecy and the willing and eager response we should have
to God and His revealed knowledge.
"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne,
high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.
"Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered
his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
"And one cried to another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of
hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!'
"And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried
out, and the house was filled with smoke.
"So I said: 'Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean
lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes
have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.'
"Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal
which he had taken with the tongs from the altar.
"And he touched my mouth with it, and said: 'Behold, this has touched
your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.'
"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: 'Whom shall I send, and
who will go for Us?' Then I said, 'Here am I! Send me'" (Isaiah 6:1-8).
Seeing the power and supremacy of our Creator God helps us to see ourselves
in proper perspective. God's forgiveness and help are necessary for
us to understand and do our part in God's plan.
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What Is Prophecy?
"The Hebrew word for prophet, nabi, means 'one who announces or
brings a message from God'" (Peloubet's Bible Dictionary, 1971, "Prophet,
Revealing the future was only part of the role of a prophet. The prophets
taught and passionately reminded people of God's law and His covenants (agreements)
with His people. They pointed out sins and the consequences they would bring,
calling on everyone to repent.
The point of prophecy is not to give secret knowledge of the future, but
to motivate us to turn back to God and stay faithful to God. The major prophecies
of destruction and punishment for the disobedient are coupled with the promises
of God's blessings for the obedient and hope of the coming Kingdom of God.
This is the good news—the gospel—taught throughout the Bible.
Why should we listen to Bible prophecies?
"Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I
am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning,
and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel
shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure'… Indeed I have spoken it; I
will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it."
2 Peter 1:19-21
And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as
a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning
star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture
is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of
man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
The prophecies of the Bible, though many seem strange to the modern reader,
are not the writings of mad men or self-proclaimed futurists. Bible prophecy
was directly inspired by God. The prophecies are not speculation; the all-powerful
Creator God is well able to make world events work out to exactly fulfill
His plan. Thankfully, that plan was created with the eternal benefit of every
person in mind (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9).
So now let's look at some background to the three Major Prophets and a few
of the important passages that have great meaning for our lives today.
The United Church of God Bible
Commentary on Isaiah introduces the book this way:
"The prophet Isaiah was contemporary with Hosea. They delivered their
prophecies during the reigns of the same four kings of Judah (1:1; Hosea
1:1). Hosea also mentions a king of Israel during Uzziah's reign, perhaps
because the primary focus of Hosea is the people of the northern kingdom.
Isaiah's message is directed toward Judah and Jerusalem, and those nations
that interact with them. Yet sometimes, it should be noted, Jerusalem is
a reference to all 12 tribes of Israel, as they were at one time united
under it. In any case, although the message was relevant for the people
of Isaiah's day, it was also written as a prophecy for the end-time nation of Judah, Israel and the other
nations of the world.
"Isaiah's actual calling appears to be recorded in chapter 6, and
occurs in the final year of Uzziah's reign. The first five chapters serve
as a long introduction to the book. The name 'Isaiah' means 'The Eternal
Saves' or 'The Eternal Helps' and the deliverance of Judah and Israel, as
well as the gentile nations, is a central theme of the book. Isaiah is called
the messianic prophet for an obvious reason—his many wonderful prophecies
of the coming Deliverer, the Messiah, and the Messiah's coming reign over
all nations. That Messiah would, as all professing Christians understand,
be revealed as Jesus Christ. Speaking of Jesus, John 12:41 says that Isaiah
'saw His glory and spoke of Him.' (Isaiah is quoted or referred to 85 times
in the New Testament—from 61 separate passages.)
"Isaiah is referred to 13 times as the son of Amoz, which may suggest
that his father was a man of some prominence. According to Jewish rabbinic
tradition in the Babylonian Talmud, this Amoz was a brother of Judah's King
Amaziah. If so, this would make Isaiah first cousin to King Uzziah, and
a grandson of King Joash—and thus a man of the palace, being of royal blood.
Growing up in such an environment, he would have been familiar with international
relations and other affairs of state. According to the Babylonian and Jerusalem
Talmud, Isaiah was martyred when King Manasseh, apostate son of Hezekiah,
had him fastened between two planks and 'sawn asunder' (to which Hebrews
11:37 appears to refer).
"'Critical' scholarship—that based in the view that the Bible is not the
inspired Word of God nor written when it claims to be—has denied Isaiah's
authorship of chapters 40-66. Instead it attributes this section to a later
unknown author it calls 'Deutero-Isaiah,' i.e., 'Second Isaiah' though not
actually named Isaiah. Others have argued for a third author (Trito-Isaiah)
for chapters 55-66. The New Testament, however, quotes from all three sections
of the book, attributing each quote to the one biblical prophet Isaiah himself
(compare Isaiah 1:9 and Romans 9:29; Isaiah 53:1 and Romans 10:16; Isaiah
65:1 and Romans 10:20).
"Why do critics try to post-date Isaiah? Mainly because Isaiah accurately
prophesied future events. (For example, Isaiah names the Persian ruler
Cyrus 200 years before he came to power, Isaiah 44:28; 45:1.) The critics,
you see, have a choice: they must either admit that an overseeing supernatural
power and intelligence inspired these prophecies or find some other way
to explain them. They have gone with the latter solution—redating the prophecies,
moving the date of composition forward a few centuries so that the prophecies
appear to have been written after all of the prophesied events had already
occurred. This has been true of 'higher criticism' for most prophetic books."
Dr. Gleason L. Archer examines the theories about multiple authors of the
book of Isaiah in two chapters in his book A Survey of Old Testament Introduction. He
"In view of all the foregoing evidence, it may fairly be said that it requires
a far greater exercise of credulity to believe that Isaiah 40-66 was not written
by the historical eighth-century Isaiah than to believe that it was. Judging
from internal evidence alone, even apart from the authority of the New Testament
authors, a fair handling of the evidence can only lead to the conclusion that
the same author was responsible for both sections and that no part of it was
composed as late as the exile" (1974, p. 351).
What is the cause of the suffering Isaiah foresaw for his own time
and the end time?
Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children
who are corrupters! They have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked to anger
the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward.
All the hypocritical religious rituals in the world can't cover up blatant,
selfish sins (Isaiah 1:11-15). God warns us that our sins cut us off from
What is the solution?
"Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings
from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke
the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.
"Come now, and let us reason together," says the Lord, "Though your sins are
like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson,
they shall be as wool."
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities;
the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own
way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah foresaw Jesus Christ's coming sacrifice that would make possible the
forgiveness of sin. Repenting and
turning away from sin is the biblical way to accept the wonderful gift of
Christ's sacrifice and forgiveness.
After all the punishments and suffering Isaiah described, what is
the bright hope he reveals?
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord's
house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted
above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.
Many people shall come and say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of
the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and
we shall walk in His paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the
word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat
their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation
shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
Isaiah outlines the good news of the coming Kingdom of God that will be set
up on earth at Jesus Christ's return. He describes a world of justice and
peace, even in the animal world (Isaiah 11:1-10), and the healing of people
and even the land (35:1-7).
The UCG Bible
Commentary on Jeremiah gives this introduction:
"The Old Testament mentions nine different people named Jeremiah.
The man God used to author this book was a priest and one of Israel's greatest
prophets. Because of several biographical narratives in the book of Jeremiah,
more is known about Jeremiah than any other prophet.
"The Hebrew name Jeremiah apparently means 'Exalted of the Eternal'
or 'Appointed by the Eternal.' It may relate to the fact that the prophet
was one of only a few people whom the Bible reveals to have been sanctified
by God before birth for a special purpose—the others being John the Baptist,
Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul (Luke 1:13-14; Isaiah 49:1, 5; Galatians
1:15). Jeremiah 1:5 may mean that, like John and Jesus, Jeremiah was chosen
even before his conception for his commission.
"Jeremiah's father Hilkiah (1:1) was apparently not the high priest
Hilkiah of 2 Kings 22:8. The priests who lived at the priest-city of Anathoth
(about 3 miles northeast of Jerusalem) were of the house of Ithamar (compare
1 Kings 2:26) while the high priests, since Zadok, were of the line of Eleazar.
"Jeremiah's ministry began in the 13th year of Josiah (Jeremiah 1:2)—ca.
627 or 626 B.C.—when Zephaniah is also believed to have preached. The book
bearing Jeremiah's name relates his words and works during the reigns of
the last five kings of Judah—a span of about 40 years—and on into the first
years of Judah's Babylonian captivity (verses 1-3). Josiah was a righteous
ruler who was apparently close to Jeremiah—the king's great reformation
coming five years after Jeremiah's preaching began. Upon Josiah's death,
Jeremiah lamented for him (2 Chronicles 35:25). But the mostly superficial
benefits of Josiah's reforms were soon replaced by moral and spiritual decay.
Following him were four wicked rulers—Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and,
finally, Zedekiah, whose reign was ended by Babylon's invasion of Judah.
"'According to the traditional date, the time of [Jeremiah's] call (year
13 of Josiah's reign—Jeremiah 1:2) coincided approximately with the death
of the last great Assyrian ruler, Ashurbanipal, an event which signaled the
disintegration of the Assyrian empire under whose yoke Judah had served for
nearly a century. Against the waning power and influence of the Assyrians,
Judah asserted its independence under Josiah' (International Standard
Bible Encyclopedia, 'Jeremiah, Book of'). This was no doubt assisted
by the arrival of the Scythians, which soon followed. But following their
eventual withdrawal, Judah found itself in a vulnerable position between two
powers contending for dominance—Egypt and the Neo-Babylonian Empire—and the
latter would emerge supreme.
"Jeremiah was appointed 'a prophet to the nations' (verse 5)—to 'all
the kingdoms of the world' (25:26). And chapters 46-51 are directed to various
gentile nations. However, 'nations' would seem to refer primarily to the
people of Judah and Israel. His preaching was, of course, in large measure
directed to the people of Judah where he lived. But Jeremiah also prophesied
to the house
of Israel—which God had punished and sent into captivity nearly a
century before he began preaching. Obviously, then, God's message is
for Israel of the end time. Jeremiah wrote of a time of national trouble that
is yet ahead for the modern descendants of the lost 10 tribes of Israel. A
number of passages in Jeremiah clearly refer to events that will occur just
before and after Christ's return at the end of this age.
"One of the greatest values of this book is its universal application
in understanding the righteous nature of God and the rebellious nature of
man, desperately in need of transformation. According to The Expositor's Bible
Commentary, 'Jeremiah preached more about repentance than any other prophet'
(introductory notes on Jeremiah). For a time, Jeremiah's message was for the
people of his day to repent or else be taken captive by Babylon. Yet, because
the response was resentment rather than repentance, God revealed to Jeremiah
that Jerusalem's fall and the people's captivity had become the inevitable
punishment. Following that revelation, Jeremiah continued to exhort the people
to repent, but he also preached that God's will was for them to submit to
Babylon—with assurance that, if they did, they would receive mercy. However
the populace, especially the authorities, viewed this message as pessimistic,
heretical, unpatriotic and even treasonous. As a result, Jeremiah repeatedly
suffered rejection, hostility, ridicule, persecution, and threats against
his life. For a while he was actually imprisoned.
"Besides this book that bears his name, Jeremiah is also credited
with writing the book of Lamentations—a term that has become almost synonymous
with the prophet. Indeed, much of the book of Jeremiah can be described
as a lament about the people's lack of obedience to God and the tragic fate
awaiting them. Based on the prophet, the English language contains the word
'jeremiad,' defined as 'an elaborate and prolonged lamentation or a tale
of woe' (American
Heritage Dictionary, 1969). That should not be surprising. The Jeremiah
of popular imagination is a stern and gloomy doomsayer. But that is an extreme
and unfair characterization of the prophet. His messages, which were critical
of the people's conduct and warned of punishment, were not his own inventions.
Rather, he was conveying God's messages. Moreover, these messages
included the wonderful promise of mercy and deliverance if the people would
repent. And Jeremiah 1:10 clearly reveals that his commission was to include
positive and negative—constructive and destructive—elements.
His book also contains joyous prophecies of the coming Messiah, a new covenant
and a blissful new age to come.
"Part of the unfair portrayal of Jeremiah's personality is the picture
of a chronically depressed person. Yet while he did suffer frequent melancholy,
this was a reflection of the great stress and sacrifices of his life, not
of inherent weakness. A prophet's lonely life of being the bearer of bad
news was a heavy and depressing burden to bear, especially for one so deeply
concerned and tenderhearted as Jeremiah. He felt anger and disgust at the
apostasy and idolatry of the people, but he grieved as well, knowing the
ominous fate awaiting his beloved countrymen. Added to that, he felt perplexed
and humiliated when many years were passing and his prophecies were not
"Jeremiah is sometimes called the 'weeping prophet' (see 9:1, 10;
13:17; 48:32), but mourning for others over their wickedness and future
suffering is a spiritual strength, not a weakness (Ezekiel 9:4; 21:6; Amos
6:6; Matthew 5:4). Other strengths of Jeremiah were his faith in God, devotion
to prayer, faithfulness in fulfilling his calling, and unflinching courage
in the face of hostility and danger. Jeremiah's life has parallels with the
life of Christ, who was a 'Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief' (Isaiah
53:3; Matthew 16:14)…
"Of all the prophetic books, Jeremiah is the longest. It 'is longer
than Isaiah or Ezekiel, and the Minor Prophets combined are about a third
shorter. The claim has been made that it is the longest book in the Bible'
It is also the most complex of the prophetic books. It is not arranged chronologically
or topically. That may partly be because Jeremiah was mainly a preacher rather
than a writer, who later dictated events and messages after the fact. (Jeremiah
dictated much of the book to his secretary Baruch.) As it is, 'the organization
of the oracles, prose sermons, and other material is based on content, audience,
and connective links' (Nelson Study Bible, introductory notes on
Was Jeremiah's life in danger for warning the people of the consequences
of their sins?
Jeremiah 11:21, New Living Translation
The men of Anathoth wanted me dead. They said they would kill me if I did
not stop speaking in the Lord's name.
Even the people of his own town were plotting against Jeremiah! People do
not like to be told that they are wrong and that their sins will bring punishment
on them. God's message made Jeremiah not only unpopular, but he was even considered
In spite of all the abuse he suffered, where was Jeremiah's heart?
O my soul, my soul! I am pained in my very heart! My heart makes a noise in
me; I cannot hold my peace, because you have heard, O my soul, the sound
of the trumpet, the alarm of war.
Jeremiah felt deep compassion for his people. Many times he wept for them
because of the suffering their sins were causing. Jeremiah's love and concern
were a reflection of God's love and concern. God does not want to see us bring
suffering on ourselves, and He is quick to forgive and rescue us when we turn
What did God prophesy would happen after Judah was taken into captivity
"For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will
visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts
of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
"Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
"And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."
This prophecy of a 70-year captivity gave hope to those who were exiled in
Babylon, such as Daniel (Daniel 9:2). The fulfillment of this prophecy also
helps verify the validity of other prophecies. (See "History
Proves Bible Prophecy's Accuracy" from the booklet You
Can Understand Bible Prophecy.)
What did Jeremiah record as the ultimate solution for overcoming
"Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new
covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according
to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them
by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they
broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord.
"But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write
it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."
The Bible makes clear that the reason human beings always fail to obey the
good laws God has given us is because of our human heart (Deuteronomy 5:29;
Hebrews 8:8). God told Jeremiah, "The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). But God revealed
His solution to the human heart problem. Through Jesus Christ's sacrifice
and the gift of the Holy Spirit, God gives us a spiritual heart transplant.
He gives us a heart that can internalize God's law of love. For more about
this New Covenant, see "Why
Is the New Covenant Better?"
The UCG Bible
Commentary on Ezekiel begins with this overview:
"Recall from 2 Kings 24:10-16 that the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar
invaded Judah and took away 10,000 captives, including the Jewish king Jehoiachin
(or Jeconiah). This was the second Babylonian deportation of the Jews, which
took place in 597 B.C. The prophet Ezekiel was among a group of these captives,
as the Jewish historian Josephus also relates (Antiquities of the Jews, Book
10, chap. 6, sec. 3). Ezekiel's group was resettled 'by the River Chebar'
(1:1), southeast of Babylon. 'Ezekiel 1:1-3 and 3:15 clearly define the place
of origin of Ezekiel's ministry as Babylonia, specifically at the site of
Tel Aviv located near the Kebar River and the ancient site of Nippur. This
'River' has been identified by many with the naru kabari [or 'grand
canal'] (mentioned in two cuneiform texts from Nippur), a canal making a southeasterly
loop, connecting at both ends with the Euphrates River' (The Expositor's
Bible Commentary, introduction to Ezekiel). During this period the Jews
were allowed to live in communities in whatever area of the empire to which
they were transported. They seem to have been viewed more as colonists than
slaves. Ezekiel himself was married until his wife suddenly died, and he had
a house (24:15-18; 3:24; 8:1). Elders of Judah frequently consulted him (8:1;
11:25; 14:1; 20:1; etc.).
"The book of Ezekiel begins with an account of the prophet's calling,
which occurred 'in the thirtieth year, on the fifth day of the fourth month'
(1:1). This date is equated in verse 2 with 'the fifth day of the month…in
the fifth year of King Jehoiachin's captivity.' Since the captivity began
in 597 B.C., the fifth year would have been 593. Some understand the 30th
year to be counted from Josiah's renewal of the covenant between God and
Judah in the 18th year of his reign, 623-622 B.C. (see 2 Chronicles 34:8,
29-33). However, there is nothing to hint at such a connection, and the
covenant had long since been trampled upon in the 16 years since Josiah's
death. A more reasonable conclusion is that the 30th year refers to Ezekiel's
age, especially when we consider that he was a priest (Ezekiel 1:3). Since
a man entered into priestly service at the age of 30 (Numbers 4:3, 23, 30,
39, 43; 1 Chronicles 23:3), God may have elected to start using him as a
prophet at this critical age, perhaps highlighting the priestly aspect of
Ezekiel's commission. It is interesting to note that if he were 30 years
old at this point, Ezekiel would have been born at the time of Josiah's
"There is a strong emphasis on chronology throughout the book of Ezekiel.
It contains 13 prophecies dated from the time Jeconiah was taken into exile—the
first in 593, the last in 571 (thus spanning 22 years). Four periods are
specified: the first five years, 593-588 B.C. (1:1-25:17); the next two
years, 587-585 B.C., surrounding the fall of Jerusalem in 586 (26:1-29:16;
30:20-39:29); 12 years later, 573 B.C. (40:1-48:35); and a final message
against Egypt two years after that, 571 B.C. (29:17-30:19).
"Ezekiel's commission was to serve as a 'watchman' for God's people—a
sentry who warned of impending danger (see Ezekiel 3; 33). As we will see,
his messages were meant in large part for the 'house of Israel,' even though
the northern 10 tribes had been taken into captivity about 130 years earlier
(3:1, 4, 3, 7, 17; 33:7, 10, 11, 20). In fact, the phrase 'house of Israel'
occurs 78 times (plus 'house of Jacob' one time) in this book while 'house
of Judah' occurs only 5 times. In some cases, the name Israel is used to
designate Judah—but there are numerous instances where it is clear that
the northern tribes are meant. Since God would never be a century late in
delivering a warning message, it seems clear that He must have inspired
significant portions of the book primarily for the end-time descendants
of Israel. However, some of the specific prophecies were meant for Ezekiel's
time, and some others are dual—meant for Ezekiel's day and the end time. The spiritually deteriorating conditions
in Judah were a type of the end-time decline of modern Israelite nations,
and the approaching destruction and captivity of Judah was a type of what
would happen to the nations of Israel—especially the descendants of Joseph—just
prior to Christ's return.
"In the setting in which Ezekiel found himself, he taught, comforted
and encouraged the Jews who were with him in exile. As part of his watchman
responsibility, he was also to relay to them God's warnings of Jerusalem's
coming destruction due to the sins of the Jewish people. And he proved faithful
in delivering these important messages, even acting out various judgments
or prophecies at God's direction to make the point clear. At the same time,
as we've seen, the prophet Jeremiah was giving a similar warning 600 miles
away in Jerusalem to the Jews who were living there. Interestingly, both
Ezekiel and Jeremiah were priests called to a prophetic office. A comparative
study of their messages provides a clear picture of how much God warned
the Jews to repent before their nation was destroyed in 586 B.C. Indeed,
we've seen that Jeremiah sent messages to the exiles in Babylon (see Jeremiah
29-30). Perhaps some of Ezekiel's prophecies were likewise proclaimed to
the Jews of Judah—by letter or just through the reporting of others. Of
course, as with those of Jeremiah, many of Ezekiel's prophecies were, as
already noted, recorded principally for posterity's sake—with many having
dual or even exclusive application to events far in the future.
"One of the recurrent themes in Ezekiel's prophecies is that God is
sovereign and people will ultimately learn that lesson. The phrase 'Then
they will know that I am the Lord' occurs no less than 65 times in the book.
Jerusalem is the focal point of Ezekiel's prophecies. He begins with what
was to occur to Jerusalem in his day and then moves on to the events prophesied
for the end of the age. (He closes the book with a wonderful vision of conditions
that will exist after the return of Christ.) Yet throughout the first 34
chapters, Ezekiel moves back and forth between prophecies for his own day
and the end time—many of the historical events foretold serving as types
of what is to come in the end time.
"Ezekiel's name means 'God Is Strong' (compare Ezekiel 3:14), 'God
Strengthens' (compare Ezekiel 30:25; 34:16) or 'May God Strengthen.' As
the book opens, we see how God strengthened him with powerful visions so
he could perform the job he was called to do."
What is the watchman's role?
"Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore
hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to
the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak
to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked
man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.
"Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness,
nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered
"Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits
iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because
you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness
which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require
at your hand.
"Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should
not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning;
also you will have delivered your soul."
God in His love and justice plans to give people warning of the consequences
of their sins. And He enlisted His people to spread that warning call for
repentance, as well as the good news about His Kingdom. The watchman's role
carries a heavy responsibility, so we must never fall asleep at the switch
or neglect preaching the gospel.
Does Ezekiel also give a vision of hope showing God's mercy to all?
"Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God: "Behold, O My
people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves,
and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the
Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from
your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will
place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken
it and performed it," says the Lord.'"
Ezekiel's prophecy of these dry bones brought back to physical life can't
be referring to the resurrection at Jesus Christ's return, when God's people
are changed to spirit (Revelation 20:6; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17). He is referring
to the "rest of the dead" mentioned in Revelation 20:5. Passages like Matthew
11:20-24 and 12:41-42 show that this resurrection will involve more than just
the peoples of Israel. In fact, this resurrection will fulfill God's plan
to provide everyone with a full chance for salvation (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter
3:9). For more about this, see "The
Second Resurrection: Humanity's Opportunity for Salvation!"
We hope these few passages from the Major Prophets will provide a starting
place for your further study of these important books.
One message of the Major Prophets is that God is all-powerful and sovereign,
and we are weak and totally dependent on Him. Read through Isaiah 40, and
notice the perspective that it gives. We are like grass, like dust or a
drop in the bucket. Yet the Eternal God has plans for us and can provide
us with strength to "mount up with wings like eagles…run and not be weary"
With this perspective in mind, pray for God's help to understand these
prophecies and seek His help to respond with personal repentance and with
a dedication to help spread God's message of warning and hope and help.
Pray for the strength you will need to do this. God is happy to give it
to those who "wait on the Lord."
Next Lesson: Lesson 4: The Minor Prophets and You
Questions about this lesson? Feedback about
You Can Understand Bible Prophecy
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Can Understand Bible Prophecy
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The Role of
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Warning to "Watch"—Just What Did He Mean?