The Bible is an indivisible entity, a document of spiritual and historical relevance. Depending upon interpretation and usage, it has been and can be an indispensable tool of liberation or a weapon of mass destruction and oppression. It is the infallible word of God as depicted by His inspired prophets and the story of a people. The fundamental theme of the Bible is an expose on God’s nature and the nature of the human family via key biblical figures and their relationship to Him and with each other.
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The Hebrew prophets, pre-classical and 8th century classical were indeed key biblical figures. Live personages who were more than mere mouth pieces but served as God’s divine partners. Moses, Deborah, Samuel, Nathan, Gad, Elijah, and Elisha are considered pre-classical era prophets. Active in the early history of Israel, their distinction is that they do not have biblical books bearing their name as Classical Prophets such as Isaiah, Ezekial, etc. Moses, the great liberator, is considered the greatest of all the prophets.
A fiery woman with a fighting spirit, Prophetess Deborah was the fourth and the only female Judge of pre-monarchic Israel. A descendent of Levi, Samuel was a priest as well as a prophet. The last of the Hebrew Judges and the cusp between eras, he was the first major prophet to prophesy in the Land of Israel. A court prophet in the time of King David, Nathan’s reprimand to David for his adulterous affair with Bathsheba proved the power of a prophet over a King – an ancient check and balance between God and a King.
Gad was one of King David’s personal prophets. Bold, direct, and sometimes referred to as Elijah the Thunderer, Elijah’s return is considered a precursor to the coming of the Messiah. An attendant, disciple and successor of Elijah, Elisha was a prophet in Israel sixty years. Often viewed as miracle workers and clairvoyants, these prophets were significantly involved in communal affairs and politics of the people and constantly consulted by Israel’s leaders for advice.
The social concerns, theological message and historical context of the 8th century classical prophets addressed the plethora of social and political ills of the time. Unrighteous behavior and disobedience to God’s commandments, statutes, and ordinances were the root cause of these ills. Amos, Hosea, Micah, and Isaiah were known for their preachments/teachings of harsh divine punishments as a consequence. For Amos, social justice could not be divorced from true faithfulness.
Amos knew that God viewed the Children of Israel as His chosen people; therefore, he was exceedingly critical in his preachments. He was the vessel thru which social justice, divine judgment, and God’s omnipotence became the fundamental tenets of Biblical prophecy. Hosea’s marriage to the prostitute Gomer, at God’s command, symbolized Israel’s adulterous relationship incurred by worshiping polytheistic gods.
Although considered the prophet of doom and destruction, he epitomizes a promise of redemption and restoration. Born in poor yet humble means, Micah spoke on behalf of the poor and especially condemned the elite for exploiting the less fortunate. He predicted the destruction of Judah and Israel as well the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth. For Isaiah, there was a synergy between moral/ethical behavior and worship. He coined the expression the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah purported that God was the God of the earth and His Kingdom on earth was visible and representative of souls on earth.
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Distinct in character, all of these Divine souls were known for their humility and reverence for God’s will. They epitomized God’s love, wrath, compassion, and forgiveness only proving that God’s word is absolute. The Prophets confirm that God puts it into the heart of man to fulfill that which He says and wants.