Old Testament Prophets
He was gracious to the chosen people, but when the moral fall of the Israelites passed all limits, he withdrew and allowed him to be enslaved. So, 722 BC was marked by the fall of the Northern Kingdom of the Jews.
The South, Judea, lasted just over a hundred years, for the kings and the people in it truly worshiped the One God.
In order to repent of the Jews, the Lord began to send the Old Testament prophets, pointing to the lawlessness. The chosen ones carried penitential sermons and prophecies about the coming of the Savior into the world, who was destined to save the entire human race from the slavery of sin and death.
The more spiritual help was needed to the chosen people, the louder the Word of God sounded. One by one, the prophets appeared, announcing His Will and prophesying the imminent arrival of the Messiah.
Prophets in the Old Testament: the great and the small
The prophets from the Old Testament are divided into great and small. The first were only four: Isaiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah.
Each of them had to go his own way to fulfill the purpose of the Lord.
The Holy Fathers talked about a prophet who lived on the land of Israel in the VIII century BC as the great and the wonderful, the shrewd and the wisest.
Isaiah was called by the Lord for prophetic ministry. He appeared seated on a high throne, surrounded by the Seraphim.
One of the angels touched the mouth of Isaiah with burning coal from the heavenly altar to be cleansed.
His vocation was the salvation of people from the spiritual slavery of pagan worship. Like a burning candle with his radiance, the prophet denounced obligeous acts. It was he who was entrusted to bring to the people the news of the destruction of Judea and the capture of the Jews.
Slavery would not be eternal, and in a measured time the people of God would return home.
Talking about Christ, Isaiah was struck by the accuracy and clarity of events, for which he received the nickname «of the Old Testament evangelist.» He told people about the immaculate conception in the womb of the immaculate and chaste Virgin, predicted the suffering of Christ for the salvation of people and the possibility of salvation from separation from God through faith.
His words were heard in the times of pagan worship, even in Jerusalem itself. The people did not want to hear Isaiah’s speech, his sermons, and laughed at the prophecies, betraying the pious to martyrdom.
Nevertheless, God fulfilled all that was promised to the Jews, who did not accept His will.
He was the son of a priest from Anathoth, near Jerusalem. He received a call to prophetic ministry when he was only 15 years old. The youth discovered that even before his birth, he was determined to become the mouth of God.
He refused, speaking of his youth and inability to speak beautifully, to which God touched the lips of the future prophet and promised to be near.
For 23 years, Jeremiah was engaged in denouncing the Jews for apostasy and idolatry, predicting disaster and war for the people. He stopped at the entrance to the temple and preached with threats and tears, to which he received only ridicule, curses, threats and even beatings.
Clearly showing the coming slavery, Jeremiah hung a wooden neck, and then an iron yoke. Irritated by the young man’s prophetic speeches, the Jewish elders ordered him to be sent to a ditch with a fetid mud, where he almost died.
The God-fearing courtier, Avdemelech, managed to help the boy free himself, but he did not cease to bear the prophetic ministry, for which he fell into a dungeon.
When the Babylonians came to the kingdom of the Jews, the chosen people believed in the predictions, but it was too late. King Nebuchadnezzar released the young man from prison, allowing himself to choose where to live.
Jeremiah stayed on the ruins of Jerusalem to mourn the calamities of his country and the folly of his people.
According to legend, Jeremiah hid the Ark of the Covenant, along with the tablets in the caves of Nawaf, so that the Jews could not find it. The Jews who remained on the Jewish land decided to flee to the land of Egypt after the assassination of the vicar of the Babylonian king.
The prophet tried to convince them not to do this, because the punishment they fear would find Jews there. Again, not listening to the prophet, the Jews forcibly took him and settled in the city of Tafnis.
For four years Jeremiah lived there, revered by the Egyptians and Jews for the fact that with God’s help he was able to kill crocodiles with a prayer. The prophet tried to reveal to the people that the king of Babylon would soon come after them, devastate the earth and wipe out the immigrants-Jews, but the Jews killed him. And the prediction came true …
The son of Vuziya lived in the village of Tel Aviv, not far from the Babylonian Nippura, was married, but became a widower. In his house, Jews often gathered to talk about God and listen to the speeches of Ezekiel.
The Jerusalem priest Ezekiel was brought to Babylon among the first prisoners.
The book of Ezekiel is compositionally built more harmoniously than Isaiah and Jeremiah, and, for the most part, written by him. It contains the dates of the most important visions and prophecies, the last one — March 17 (29), 571.
Father of the Church agree that the prophet was soon gone. It is quite possible that after the death of a teacher, one of the disciples rebuilt the Book in the traditional manner: a word about the people of God, about pagans and prophecy.
According to legend, the tomb of Ezekiel is located near Beers-Nimrud. The memory of the prophet is honored by the Church on July 21.
Among the captives brought to the king Nebuchadnezzar were young men of noble birth, Daniel, Ananias, Mishael, and Azariah. The king ordered to teach them wisdom and leave for education at the court. Jewish youths, however, honored the precepts of the faith and refused luxury and excess, eating only water and vegetables.
God rewarded them with wisdom, and Daniel presented an opportunity to interpret dreams. By his perspicacity the young man surpassed the Chaldean sages and was close to the king.
One day Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that impressed him, the content of which he safely forgot the next morning, therefore he ordered the sages to reveal the secret of this dream. The Babylonian magicians and astrologers were powerless, and Daniel, in the glory of the Lord and with His help, divined the content and meaning of the dream.
After a while, the king wanted to build a huge statue of himself to be honored. The young men Azariah, Ananias, and Misaila refused and were sent into the blazing furnace.
The flames should have consumed the young men immediately, but they quietly walked on the fire, performing a prayer. Amazed that the young men remained intact, and the king decided to turn to God.
During the time of King Belshazzar, the prophet Daniel found the meaning of an inscription, which mysteriously appeared on the palace wall during the celebration. She spoke of the coming fall of Babylon.
During the reign of the Persian king, slandered Darius, the prophet was thrown to hungry lions, but the predators did not touch him, and he remained unharmed. The overjoyed and impressed king ordered the worship of the One God.
Daniel mourned for the Jewish people, justly punished by God for their sins and given into captivity. He repeatedly petitioned him before King Cyrus, who highly valued the prophet.
With his righteous life, prayer and piety, Daniel redeemed the sins of his people, for which the fate of the Israelites and of the whole world was revealed to him.
- Avdi announced the death of Edom, the coming trial of all the nations;
- And she told about the fate of the people of Israel, the imminent slavery of the Jews and the suffering of Christ;
- Joel predicted the coming of the Doomsday, when the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all, regardless of gender and age;
- Amos denounced the shortcomings of social order and human qualities. The election of the Jews identified with a high degree of responsibility;
- Hosea spoke of Christ, the sins of the Jews, the impending captivity and the spread of true knowledge of God;
- Micah revealed the fall of both Kingdoms, God’s punishment, the future birth of the Savior;
- Naum predicted the fall of the idolatrous depraved and magical Nineveh;
- Zephaniah pointed out the need for repentance, permission from Jewish countries;
- Avvakumu the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, the Babylonian captivity of the Jews, the return of the latter to their homeland;
- Aggay called upon the people to repent, to take care not only of their home, but also the house of the Lord;
- Zechariah He announced the coming of the Messiah, trying to convey the meaning of his coming, the need to be worthy of sacrifice;
- Malachi the role of harsh critic was assigned: he blamed the Jews for their lack of diligence in the affairs of God, the priests for their lack of faith and vices. He talked a lot about the Advent, the Forerunner, and God’s Judgment.
Such are the prophets of the Old Testament …
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