Prophets of God - Jeremiah, Daniel, Zechariah and Malachi**

In our second of a two part study on some of the Prophets of God between David {Dawood} and Jesus {Isa} we continue to learn what God taught us concerning himself and his plan for all peoples.   In this first part we studied about his prophets such as Solomon {Suleman}, Elijah {Ilyas}, Jonah {Yunus} and Isaiah.  In this second part, we proceed on with some other major prophets such as Jeremiah, Daniel, Zechariah {Zakaria}, and  Malachi.  

In part one of our study, we ended with prophet Isaiah who wrote much about the Messiah who was to come. Seven hundred years before the birth of the Messiah, God put into Isaiah's mind how this Savior of sinners would come from the presence of God, be born of a virgin, live a holy life, and do miracles that no one else could do. However, Isaiah also prophesied that the Messiah would shed His blood, like a sacrificed lamb, to pay for the sins of the world. And once His sacrifice was completed, He would conquer death and rise from the grave, providing eternal life to all who believe in Him.   In this second part we begin with another great prophet of God--the prophet Jeremiah.

Jeremiah lived about a hundred years after the prophet Isaiah.   Jeremiah was a Jew. He was born in a small town just five kilometers from Jerusalem. Jeremiah's father served as a priest in the temple in Jerusalem. In that time, most of the Jews in Jerusalem were still very religious, following the traditions of their ancestors, but they did not heed the Word of the Lord God. Jeremiah, however, was a man who cherished the Word of God and obeyed it; he was looking forward to the day when God would send the Messiah into the world.  Now let us read how God called Jeremiah to be a prophet.

(Prophets - Jer. 1) 4The word of the Lord came to me, saying, 5"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." 6"Ah, Sovereign Lord," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child." 7But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the Lord. 9Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, "Now, I have put my words in your mouth. 10See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant."

Thus God called Jeremiah to be His prophet. God appointed him to go to his fellow Jews, and tell them that God would judge them if they did not repent of their sin and turn back to the Lord and His holy Word. Jeremiah's task was heavy and difficult, because the Jews did not want anyone to tell them that their religious works did not please God. However, the prophet Jeremiah was not a man-pleaser. Thus, for twenty-four years, Jeremiah preached in Jerusalem and throughout the land of Judah, saying: "God wants me to warn you that if you do not repent of your sins and obey the word of the Lord--God will allow the army of the nation of Babylon to come, enter Jerusalem, destroy and burn both the city and the temple! And they will take you as captives to a faraway land!" That is the message Jeremiah proclaimed to the Jews living in Judah.

Let us read a few excerpts from the writings of Jeremiah where he warned his fellow Jews. In the book of Jeremiah, chapter seven, we read:

(Prophets - Jer. 7) 1This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2"Stand at the gate of the Lord's house and there proclaim this message: "'Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord. 3This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. 4Do not trust in deceptive words and say, "This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord! [God will never judge us because the temple of the Lord is here!]" 5If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, 6if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, 7then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave to your forefathers for ever and ever. 8But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. 9"'Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury,…and follow other gods you have not known, 10and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, "We are safe" safe to do all these detestable things?'"

Thus Jeremiah rebuked the Jews who pretended to know God but denied Him by their actions. In chapter seventeen, Jeremiah adds:

(Prophets - Jer. 17) 5This is what the Lord says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord… 9The heart [of man] is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? 10"I  the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve."

Thus Jeremiah warned the people of Judah, informing them: "If you do not repent of your sins and return to God, the armies of Babylon will destroy the city of Jerusalem and this temple, and you will become their slaves!"  What do you think about this? Do you think the people of Judah respected and heeded the word which the Lord had spoken to them through the mouth of Jeremiah? Most of them did not heed the warning! Not only did the people and the priests refuse to accept the words of God's prophet, Jeremiah. The king of Judah also rejected them. In fact, when the king read the book which Jeremiah had written, he cut up the book with a knife and threw it into the firepot in the courtyard so that the entire book was consumed! That is what the king of Judah did. He did not repent of his sin, and he did not accept the word of the Lord. Yes, the king burned the book of Jeremiah, but he could not change God's decree. God simply directed Jeremiah to rewrite all His words in another book.

Something important to consider is that although most Jews refused to listen to the prophet Jeremiah, this does not mean that they were not listening to anyone! They were listening to men who called themselves prophets--but they were false prophets! The Scriptures tell us about many men who made themselves out to be prophets of God, but in reality they were hypocrites and deceivers, because their messages did not come from God. Consequently, while Jeremiah was proclaiming God's judgment which was to befall Jerusalem, the false prophets were speaking to the people of Judah, saying, "No, no! The disaster Jeremiah is predicting will not happen! Babylon cannot destroy Jerusalem! No one can destroy the temple of God! You will not see disaster! You will only have peace! Nothing but Peace!"   But Jeremiah spoke to all the Jews saying,

(Prophets - Jer. 23) 16This is what the Lord Almighty says: "Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. 21I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. 22But if they had stood in my counsel, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds!"

Thus Jeremiah warned the Jews to beware of the words of those who preached falsehood. However, unfortunately, most of the people of Judah did not heed the warning of God's prophet, Jeremiah. Instead they believed the words of the false prophets. Nevertheless, in the end, God's Word always comes true.  Read what the Scripture says:

(Prophets - Jer. 52) 4So in the ninth year of the reign of Zedekiah, [King of Judah]…Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. They camped outside the city and built siege works all around it. 5The city was kept under siege… 6By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine in the city had become so severe that there was no food for the people to eat. 7Then the city wall was broken through…[Thus the soldiers captured the king of Judah]… 9He was taken to the king of Babylon…where he pronounced sentence on him. 10There at Riblah the king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of [the king of Judah] before his eyes… 11Then he put out Zedekiah's eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon… 13[Then Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon and his soldiers] set fire to the temple of the Lord, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down. 14…and broke down all the walls around Jerusalem. 15Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile some of the poorest people and those who remained in the city, along with the rest of the craftsmen and those who had gone over to the king of Babylon. 16But Nebuzaradan left behind the rest of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields. 27So Judah went into captivity, away from her land!

Thus we see how God fulfilled everything that He had predicted through the mouth of Jeremiah, His prophet. Now all the Jews knew that the words of Jeremiah had been the words of truth. However, this knowledge was of little benefit to them, because they were now captives in the hands of the Babylonian soldiers!

What lesson can we learn from this?

"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world!" (Injeel - 1 John 4:1)

Perhaps we can agree with this thought: In the Day of Judgment, every descendant of Adam will finally know what is true and what is false. However, God wants you to discern what is true and what is false now--because on Judgment Day it will do you no good to know the truth which you disdained during your lifetime on earth!  On the Day of Judgment it will be too late to repent, because you will have perished in your sins! That is why the word of God says: "Now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation!" (Injeel - 2 Cor. 6:2)

In spite of the destruction of Jerusalem, God had not abandoned the Jews, the people He had chosen long beforehand. God could not forget the covenant that He had made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, when He said to them, "All the peoples of the world will be blessed through you." God had not forgotten His plan to send the Redeemer into the world through the nation of Jews which descended from Abraham. Thus the Scriptures relate how God took care of the Jews in Babylon for seventy years until He brought them back to Jerusalem, just as He had promised. However, before we read that part of God’s revelation, we study what God did in Babylon with one of the captives that was taken there.   This young man is Daniel-the prophet of God, Daniel. The name Daniel means God is my judge. That was Daniel's testimony in short. Daniel feared no one except Almighty God before whom every person must give an account one day. Daniel wasn't concerned about what men thought of him. Only God's thoughts mattered to him. God was Daniel's judge. Daniel believed what the prophet Solomon had written long before, saying: "Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe." (Prophets - Prov. 29:25)

God inspired Daniel to write a very profound book. The book of Daniel contains many revelations (prophecies) which the human mind could not invent. Only God knows what will happen in the future. Yet the prophet Daniel wrote about the history of many nations of the world-and he wrote their history before those nations even existed! For example, Daniel wrote how the kingdoms of Persia, and Greece and Rome would come into existence and what their kings would do. And he wrote it hundreds of years before most of these nations even existed! Also, like so many of God's prophets, Daniel wrote concerning the first coming and the second coming of the Messiah. Daniel prophesied that at the Messiah's first coming He would be "cut off"-- that is, killed as a sacrifice for sin (Prophets - Dan. 9:26), but when the Messiah returns to earth He will judge the world in righteousness. Read the vision the prophet Daniel had concerning the Messiah's second coming:

"As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended to him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened! …. In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." (Prophets - Dan. 7:9,10,13,14)

We will come back to this in our later studies when we study the message and teaching of Jesus the Messiah (Isa Al Masih), for now we look at the story of the prophet Daniel himself.   In the first chapter of the book of Daniel, we see how Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, selected some of the Jewish young men in order to train them to serve in his government. He chose those who were the most handsome and intelligent--with an aptitude for every kind of learning, capable of learning the difficult alphabet and language of Babylon. Daniel was one of the young men whom the king chose.

Thus, Daniel began to study in the schools of Babylon. However, on the very first day, Daniel faced a dilemma. The great King of Babylon had decided that the young men who were part of his school must drink the best wine and eat the best food. However, this wine and food had been offered to idols. Could Daniel participate in the worship of idols? Absolutely not! Why not? Because Daniel feared God. Daniel preferred death to doing something that was not pleasing to God, his Lord. Thus, the Scripture says: "But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself in this way." (Prophets - Dan. 1:8)

The Scriptures relate how God rescued Daniel from that dilemma, blessed him and gave him deep knowledge and wisdom, so that the Scripture says: "So [Daniel] entered the king's service. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found [Daniel] ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom." (Prophets - Dan. 1:20) Thus, for about seventy years, Daniel worked for four different kings, and God was with him.

For now, we look at a story from the life of Daniel-a story that shows how Daniel feared no one but God alone. We will see how Daniel was very different from the other officials who worked for the King. They were the kind of men who habitually twisted the truth and received bribes-because the fear of God was far from their heart. However, Daniel refused all unrighteousness and falsehood, because the fear of God filled his heart. He preferred to be thrown into a den of lions rather than to displease God.

Where our story begins, Daniel was now an old man and was serving faithfully under his fourth king. The Kingdom of Babylon was no longer called Babylon, but Persia, because two nations, that is, the Medes and the Persians, had conquered Babylon and divided it in two, just as the prophet Daniel had prophesied.   In chapter six, the Scripture says:

(Prophets - Dan. 6) 1It pleased Darius [the King] to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, 2with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. 3Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. 4At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. 5Finally these men said, "We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God." 6So the administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king and said: "O King Darius, live forever! 7The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any God or man during the next thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lions' den. 8Now, O king, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered, in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed." 9So King Darius put the decree in writing.

10Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: "Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any God or man except to you, O king, would be thrown into the lions' den?" The king answered, "The decree stands, in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed." 13Then they said to the king, "Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day."

14When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him. 15Then the men went as a group to the king and said to him, "Remember, O king, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed." 16So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions' den. The king said to Daniel, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!" 17A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel's situation might not be changed. 18Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.

19At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions' den. 20When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?" 21Daniel answered, "O king, live forever! 22My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king." 23The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. 24At the king's command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions' den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

25Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land: "May you prosper greatly! 26"I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. 27He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions!" Amen.

Did you read what the heathen king said, after he saw how God had saved Daniel from the lions? He said, "I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear the God of Daniel. For He is the living God and he endures forever!"

Do you fear the God of Daniel? Perhaps you are asking, "Who is the God of Daniel?" The God of Daniel is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The God of Daniel is the God of the prophets Moses and David. The God of Daniel is the God who has given us the Holy Scriptures. He is the God who promised to send down a Redeemer who would save sinners from a power that is stronger than the power of lions, that is, the power of Satan, and sin, and hell! The God of Daniel is God--the One True God!

Do you fear the God of Daniel? We are not asking whether you fear your friends and their thoughts, or whether you fear your ancestors and their customs.  What we are asking you is: Do you fear God? Do you want to please the Lord God and obey His holy Word? Daniel feared God, which was why he did not fear man. Daniel preferred to spend a night in the den of lions than to displease the Lord his God! How about you? Do you fear God? Do you fear Him as Daniel feared Him? Do you hate unrighteousness as Daniel hated it? Do you cherish the Word of God like Daniel cherished it? Or are you like most of the sons of Adam who twist the truth, love money, and neglect the Holy Scriptures?

Now as we continue our study of the Prophets, let us pause and consider, could the Jew's unfaithfulness frustrate God's faithfulness? Never! Read what the prophet Jeremiah we discussed before told the Jews, who were now captives in Babylon because of their sins. He said to them:

(Prophets - Jer. 29) 4This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 10…"When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to [Jerusalem]. 11For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

With this declaration, the prophet Jeremiah was informing the Jews that even if they had forgotten God, God had not forgotten them! After seventy years, God planned to bring them back to the land of their ancestors. That is what Jeremiah told the Jews who were captives in Babylon. Truly, God is faithful {Lit. the keeper of covenants}. God had not forgotten that He had promised to bless all the nations of the world through the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God had not forgotten that He purposed to entrust His Word to the Israelites so that they might pass it on to all the descendants of Adam. In our study we have seen how God chose His prophets from among the Jews, inspiring them to proclaim His holy Word and write it down for the people of future generations. We know how God placed the book of the Torah in the mind of Moses and the hymns of the Psalms in the heart of David. We have seen similarly how God inspired other Jews like Joshua, Samuel, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel to write the Word of God. We have observed how all the Writings of God's prophets announce the wonderful plan which God designed to send forth the Savior of the world through the nation of Israel.

As we continue in the story of the Prophets we will see how God brought the Jews back to the land of Judah where the Messiah was to be born, thus moving forward with His plan to bring the Messiah into the world. We will learn how the Jews returned to Jerusalem after seventy years of captivity, just as the prophet Jeremiah had predicted.  As we begin reading, let us remember that the land of Babylon was now called Persia, because Persia had conquered Babylon. Reading in the book of Ezra the Prophet, chapter one, the Scripture says:

(Prophets - Ezra 1) 1In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing: 2"This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: 'The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. 3Anyone of his people among you, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel… 5Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites, everyone whose heart God had moved, prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. 6All their neighbors assisted them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings. 7Moreover, King Cyrus brought out the articles belonging to the temple of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of his god.

Did God fulfill what He had promised long beforehand through the mouth of Jeremiah, His prophet? Of course He did! We have already seen how God allowed the king of Babylon to destroy Jerusalem, and break down the temple of God-precisely as Jeremiah had prophesied. And now we see how Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded any of the Jews who so desired, to return to their land and rebuild the temple and the city of Jerusalem-again precisely as the prophet Jeremiah had prophesied. Truly, the Lord is the King of kings. He is the One who controls the times and the seasons. All that He declares will happen! The prophet Solomon wrote: "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases." (Prophets - Prov. 21:1)

At the time of the Jews' return to Jerusalem, God provided a prophet by the name of Zechariah {Zakaria in Arabic}. This Zechariah is different from Zechariah, the father of the prophet John {Yahya in the Qur'an}. God sent Zechariah to strengthen the Jews' faith in God and His promises. Zechariah had an important message to deliver. The time appointed by God to send forth the Messiah was drawing closer! Only five hundred years remained before the Redeemer would come into the world.

Let us examine some of the words which God placed in the mind of Zechariah. Reading in the book of Zechariah, chapter one, the Scripture says:

(Prophets - Zech. 1) 1The word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo: 2"The Lord was very angry with your forefathers. 4Do not be like your forefathers, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.' But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the Lord. 5Where are your forefathers now? And the prophets, do they live forever? 6But did not my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, overtake your forefathers?"

Did you hear the warning the prophet Zechariah gave to the Jews? He said to them, "The Lord was very angry with your forefathers! Do not be like your forefathers!" Why was God angry with the Jews' forefathers? God was angry with them because they did not heed the words of the prophets that He had sent to them. That was why they ended up as captives in Babylon. Their forefathers were religious, but God was not happy with them because they ignored the words of the prophets. The Jews of that time were like people of today who say, "Of course we believe all the prophets!" However, it is obvious that they do not really believe God's prophets, because they do not heed what the prophets have written in all of the Holy Scriptures.  

After Zechariah warned the Jews, he began to tell them about the Redeemer who was to come. We will read a few excerpts. In the book of Zechariah, chapter nine, the prophet Zechariah prophesied that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem, riding on a donkey. He said, "Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." (Prophets - Zech. 9:9)

In chapter eleven, Zechariah penned a remarkable prophecy which we will explain later as we discuss Jesus the Messiah. One of the events Zechariah predicted was that the Messiah would be sold for thirty pieces of silver. The prophet Zechariah wrote: "I told them, 'If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.' So they paid me thirty pieces of silver…So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them in to the house of the Lord…" (Prophets - Zech. 11:12,13)

In chapter twelve, Zechariah prophesied that the Jews would not only sell the Messiah, but would even kill Him! He said: The Lord says,  "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.…If someone asks him, 'What are these wounds on your [hands]?' he will answer, 'The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.'" (Prophets - Zech. 12:10; 13:6)

With those words Zechariah predicted that the Messiah would have wounds (scars) in His hands. Where would He get these wounds? His fellow Jews would persuade the Romans to crucify Him. The Romans would then nail His hands and feet to a cross and later pierce His side with a spear. Everything happened exactly as Zechariah predicted. What the prophet Zechariah wrote is in perfect harmony with what the prophet David prophesied hundreds of years earlier in the Psalms, when He wrote concerning the Messiah: "They have pierced my hands and my feet." (Zabur - Psa. 22:16)

Friends, God wants us to know that the death of the Messiah on the cross is the most important part of the plan that He had designed long ago to save the children of Adam from the penalty of their sin. The righteous Messiah had to suffer and die for the unrighteous! That is the message of all of God's prophets.  Is all of this clear to you? Do you understand what Zechariah prophesied about the Messiah some five hundred years before the Messiah was born? Do you really believe the message of the prophets--that the Messiah would suffer and die and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim forgiveness of sins and a place in Paradise to all who believe in His name? Do you believe the prophets? Or are you like the Jews, who honored God's prophets with their lips, but did not believe their message?

Concerning the message of the prophets, the Scriptures declare:

"Do not treat prophecies with contempt." (Injeel - 1 Thes. 5:20) "We have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts." (Injeel - 2 Pet. 1:19) "Do you believe the prophets?" (Injeel - Acts 26:27)

As we come close to the end of the study of the Prophets, we make note that most of the sections that we have studied from the Holy Scriptures is called the First Covenant. It is also known as the Old Testament. This first section contains the Torah, the Psalms, and the other Writings of the Prophets.  God used more than thirty prophets over a period of one thousand five hundred years to write the book of the First Covenant.   However, before we look at the last chapters of the book of the First Covenant, we would like to talk a little about what we have gleaned from this holy book from our previous studies until now. We can summarize the message of all the prophets with three great thoughts:

One: God is holy and cannot overlook sin but must judge every sin.

Two: All the children of Adam are born in sin and must face God's judgment. Man is unholy, full of sin, and has no way of saving himself from the penalty of sin

Three: God planned to send down a holy Redeemer who would bear the punishment of sin for the children of Adam.   God has a plan to cleanse sinners and save them from judgment.

Have you grasped these three truths? Have these truths grasped you? Do you realize how holy God is? Do you recognize how great your sins are in the eyes of the One who must judge you? Do you know that God has a plan to cleanse you from your sins?  Indeed, God is holy and man is unholy. We have seen those two truths often in our studies in the Holy Scriptures. The holiness of God was the reason that God created the unquenchable fire for Satan and everyone who follows him. The holiness of God was the reason that He expelled Adam and Eve from the garden of Paradise on the day that they ate of the forbidden tree. The holiness of God was the reason that God commanded the sons of Adam to sacrifice animals as a burnt offering to cover sin. His holiness was also the reason He did not accept Cain's offering. Because God is holy He destroyed sinners in Noah's time with a flood of water and rained fire in Abraham's time on the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. The holiness of God is the reason that God has prepared a day when He will judge the world in righteousness.

Read what God's prophets wrote about the holiness of God and the unholiness of man. They said: "O Lord, are you not from everlasting?…Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong!" (Prophets - Hab. 1:12,13) "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags!" (Prophets - Isa. 64:6) If God is so holy and man is so unclean, who then can be saved? How can we be saved from the eternal fire of hell? How can the children of Adam spend eternity in the presence of the God who is pure and holy?

The response to that question is the third point in the message of the prophets. After the prophets preached that God is holy and that the children of Adam are unholy, they went on to declare that God Himself had a plan to cleanse the children of Adam from their sin.   The most important message of the book of the First Covenant (the Old Testament) is that God promised to send into the world a righteous Redeemer who would die in the place of the unrighteous children of Adam to redeem all those who believe in Him. This was and is God's plan to save sinners. Only through the Redeemer's shed blood can God forgive sin and reconcile sinners to Himself, without compromising His holiness.

To advance His plan to send the Savior into the world, God called Abraham to make of him a new nation, from whom the prophets of God and the Messiah would come. God spoke to Abraham, saying: "You will be a blessing and all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through you." And so Abraham begot Isaac in his old age, and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot twelve sons who produced the tribes of Israel. Thus, we learned that when God called Abraham, He was continuing forward with His plan to send the Savior into the world, because it was from the lineage of Abraham, through the nation of Israel, that the Messiah was to be born.

Next we saw how the children of Israel moved from the land of Canaan and settled in Egypt where they became slaves of the Egyptians. But God did not forget the descendants of Abraham, the Israelites. God called Moses to free the Israelites and lead them to the land which God had promised to their ancestor Abraham long before. God also used the prophet Moses to give us the book called the Torah, which is the foundation of everything that God has made known since then.

After the time of Moses, we saw how God sent many prophets to the Israelites, but most did not heed the words of the prophets. However, the unfaithfulness of the Israelites did not hinder the faithfulness of God and the plan He had designed to send the Messiah into the world! Thus we saw how God chose David as king of Israel and the prophet who would write most of the lovely and profound hymns found in the book of Psalms. The prophet David wrote much concerning the Messiah and how the children of Adam would persecute Him and even pierce His hands and His feet. But David also prophesied that after the Messiah had shed His blood as a sacrifice that removes sin, He would conquer death and rise from the grave!

In our journey through the Scriptures, we also discovered that it was not only Moses and David who wrote about the Messiah. All of God's prophets announced the Messiah's coming. For example, the prophet Isaiah announced that the Messiah would be born in a way which, as you know, no one had ever been born. He said: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means, 'God with us.'" (Prophets - Isa. 7:14; Injeel - Matt. 1:23) The prophet Isaiah wrote this seven hundred years before the Messiah was born.

There was another prophet who lived at the same time as Isaiah. His name was Micah. God revealed to Micah the name of the town in which the Messiah would be born. Listen carefully to what the prophet Micah wrote. In the book of Micah, chapter five, we read: "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times!" (Prophets - Micah 5:2) Thus, Micah announced that the Messiah would be born in the town of Bethlehem, the hometown of King David!

Surely God prepared the arrival of the Savior of the world very carefully! God's holy Book contains hundreds of references by the prophets about the coming of the Messiah. Perhaps you are asking: Why did God place in the minds of the prophets all these thoughts concerning the Messiah before He came into the world? There is one very important reason. God inspired the prophets to write much about the Messiah before He came, so that when He came and fulfilled all that the prophets wrote concerning Him, we might know beyond any doubt that He and He alone is the Savior whom God sent. God does not want anyone to deceive you! God wants you to know who the Messiah, the Savior of sinners, is, so that you can believe in Him and follow Him and be saved from your sins. That is one of the reasons He gave us this wonderful, trustworthy Book called the First Covenant--so we might distinguish the truth from error.

Now as we finish our journey in the First Covenant, we read from the book of Malachi, the final book of the First Covenant. The words of the prophet Malachi are important for us, because they are the final words which God sent down to the children of Adam before the Messiah visited the earth. Only four hundred years remained before the Redeemer would be born.

Note what the prophet Malachi wrote in the last chapter of the First Covenant. He said,

"'See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,' says the Lord Almighty.…'I the Lord do not change…But for you who revere my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in [his] wings!'" (Prophets - Mal. 3:1,6; 4:2)

Thus the prophet Malachi prophesied that God planned to send a prophet before the Messiah to prepare His way. Do you know who that prophet was? In our next study, we will see that the one who would prepare the way before the Messiah was the prophet John {Yahya}.  However, Malachi also wrote: The Lord Almighty says: "The messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come…I the Lord do not change!" (Prophets - Mal. 3:1) About two hundred years earlier, the prophet Jeremiah had prophesied:

"'The time is coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,' declares the Lord. This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. 'I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.…I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more!'" (Prophets - Jer. 31:31-34)

With these words, God was announcing that the Messiah would bring a New Covenant which would fulfill the promises and conditions of the First Covenant. The New Covenant would not depend on man who had failed to respect God's covenant; it would depend on God who, in His faithfulness and mercy, would send forth the Messiah, the Messenger of the Covenant.

For thousands of years, God had required the sacrifice of animals so that He might forgive the sins of the children of Adam. Animal sacrifices were an important part of the First Covenant which God gave to mankind through His prophets. However, the Messiah would bring to the world the New Covenant, because He would fulfill the symbolism of all the animal sacrifices, thus fulfilling all of the demands of the First Covenant.

The Messiah would not come to abolish the words of the prophets, but to fulfill them. That is why the prophet Malachi calls the Messiah "the Sun of Righteousness." How would the Messiah be like the sun? The prophets were like the moon or a candle which diffuses a little light in a dark world. However, the Messiah is the rising sun, because He came to drive out the darkness of our sin and set us on the way of righteousness forever! Who needs the light of the moon or a candle once the sun has arisen? The Messiah is the Sun of Righteousness! In our next study, we will hear that Zechariah, the father of the prophet John, spoke of the Messiah in a similar way, saying: "Because of the tender mercy of our God…the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace." (Injeel - Luke 1:78,79) Amen!

And so, friends, we have come to the end of our journey in the books of the First Covenant and in the study of the Prophets. God bless you as you heed these warning:

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Prophets - Jer. 29:13)

"Do you believe the prophets?" (Injeel - Acts 26:27)

"We have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts!" (Injeel - 2 Pet. 1:19)


** This concludes part one of our two part study of Prophets of God from the Holy Scriptures.   This teaching from the Scriptures is a compilation of Lessons 56, 57, 58 and 59 from “The Way of Righteousness” by Paul Bramsen.    Posted here by permission of copyright holder – Paul Bramsen.