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How to Read the Old Testament Prophets

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J. Daniel Hays recently sat down with us to talk about why the prophets are difficult to interpret, about Jesus' use of the prophets, and about the prophets' importance for understanding the whole Bible. His Message of the Prophets online course is now available for everyone. Learn more >

When people first read them, they think, wow, I just don’t have any idea what exactly what these guys are talking about.

The prophets are using poetry and figures of speech. They have this scathing critique and criticism against the kings and the people of their day.

The other critical thing about the prophets that makes them difficult is they are very much embedded in a specific historical timeframe, and the geo-political events around them are influencing what they’re saying and what’s taking place. It’s important to place them into that geo-political setting, so that we can understand them.

The prophets make up the same they’re the same size as the New Testament. God thought these texts were important, and he had them written down, had them recorded, had them preserved for us.

The prophets gives us this tremendous opportunity to see what does God think, what does he feel, why does he express himself, why is he angry, what about his love, and what about his forgiveness?

Jesus himself constantly interconnected with the prophets throughout the Gospels. It’s difficult to understand Jesus totally and completely within the Gospels if you don’t have this prophetic background and understand the prophets.

One of the things we see in the prophets is what are God’s expectations for his people and the prophets are going to talk a lot about relationship rather than ritual and the importance that God places on that—likewise the importance of obeying God and not just relying on ritual.

The prophets address a lot of serious problems in their day and time that carry over into our day and time as well.

They’re exciting, they’re interesting, they’re unique, absolutely unique, and so it’s fascinating to study them.

If you want to understand Christ and you want to understand the Bible as a whole, then it’s critical that you spend time with the prophets and that you get a good solid understanding of what the prophets are saying.

Learn more about the Old Testament

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By submitting your email address, you understand that you will receive email communications from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (501 Nelson Place, Nashville, TN 37214 USA) providing information about products and services of HCCP and its affiliates. You may unsubscribe from these email communications at any time. If you have any questions, please review our Privacy Policy or email us at yourprivacy@harpercollins.com.
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