Biblical Prophets

The books of the Old Testament can be grouped into 3 major sets: The historical books (Genesis, Exodus, 1 Kings, Numbers, etc.), the poetic books (Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, etc.) and the prophetic books (Hosea, Jonah, Zechariah, etc.). This last category presents the lives and inspired words of God received by men called “prophets”. According to the length of the books of which they are the authors, they are qualified either as major prophets as is the case of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel or as minor prophets. Let us find out who the prophets of the Bible are and what their messages were.

What is a prophet in the Bible?

Generally speaking, the term prophet describes a person who sends a message from God to others. Indeed, as “spokesman” of God, their role was to faithfully announce God’s will to the people. They therefore took a firm stand in order to guide the people toward justice according to God. Because of their spiritual knowledge and ability to predict the future, they were also called psychics.

Difference between psychics and prophets

A psychic differs from the prophet on two levels. First, the visions announced by psychics are stained with fatalism, whereas when a prophet speaks on the part of God, it is with a view to a change in the conduct of the people and if this changes, the judgment of condemnation previously announced can be changed for the good of the people. Second, in practice, psychics use playing cards, the flight of birds, and chance to predict the future, but  prophets rely exclusively on the Spirit of God.

The first prophets

In the historical books of Genesis or 1 Samuel, we find men who played the role of prophets in their times. This is the case of Abraham, Moses, Elijah or Elisha. God sent them to kings and men, and they announced God's righteousness and the events to come. In the case of Deborah or Samuel, their role as prophet was combined with that of judge in Israel.

The 4 great prophets of the Old Testament

The prophet Jeremiah

Author of the book of Jeremiah and the book of Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah receives the call of God while he is still very young. He announces the imminent destruction of Jerusalem and the deportation to Babylon.

The prophet Isaiah

Author of the book of Isaiah, the prophet Isaiah sees his ministry change after his vision of the glory of God in his temple. Then came a message focused on the coming of Messiah.

The prophet Ezekiel

Author of the book of Ezekiel, the prophet Ezekiel, while in captivity in Babylon, receives the vision of God’s glory and begins to announce to the people the ruin that will fall upon them because of their acts of idolatry but also the restoration and new hope that will come afterwards.

The prophet Daniel

Author of the book of Daniel, the Prophet Daniel, then in the service of King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon, impresses the Babylonians with his piety, his intelligence and his faith in his God. In his book, significant events such as the lion’s den and his visions of the end of time are presented.

The 12 prophets

After Daniel’s book, the Bible presents us with 12 prophetic books written by 12 Old Testament prophets.   These books are:

  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi

The Prophets of the New Testament

John the Baptist

After the prophet Malachi, there was a period in Israel, an intertestamentary period, where no great prophetic voice was heard. There were prophets such as Anne or Simeon, of whom the gospel of Luke speaks to us, but the appearance that made all the difference is that of John the Baptist. He begins to prophesize the very coming of the Messiah, preaches repentance and water baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy

Since the death on the cross and the resurrection of Jesus, the Spirit of God has come down to the earth and acts in the lives of all those who believe. This is what the Scriptures predicted in Joel’s book:  ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. (Acts 2:17-18) In the book of Acts, we can even see the 4 daughters of Philip or Agabus, ordinary people who also prophesied (Acts 21:9-10).