...and an Introduction to the Prophets
Here's my recent lecture on the book of Micah, a short prophetic book from the Bible's Old Testament. Have a download and a listen if you like audiobooks and teachings to be part of your day/transit, or if you fancy studying this book for yourself and would like a helping hand.
Like I said, the book of Micah is one of the Prophets and having an understanding of this specific type of literature is important to understanding any of the prophetic books. So I'd like this blog to act as an introduction to the Prophets and hope it will supplement this teaching well. I'll also do some necessary jargon busting here (as I did for my Ruth lecture) to explain the weird terms the students here have learnt to use.
The Prophets (17 books from Isaiah to Malachi) is the type of literature that contains the most direct words of the Lord in Scripture. Much of the text comes in the form of Hebrew poetry and figurative language and (contrary to popular belief) doesn't simply prophesy future judgement/restoration for God's people, but also describes the events of the time as well as God's opinions and warnings within it all. The Prophets is also one of the most misunderstood and misapplied portions of scripture. We have nothing like it in our genres of literature today and because of that people struggle with knowing how to interpret its contents, often jumping to finding future fulfillments that apply to us today.
"Care enough about the social and religious situation of your day that you lament."
The books of Kings and Chronicles are hugely important to unlocking the Prophets. They describe Israel's history from the united kingdom (where Saul, David and Solomon reigned) to the divided kingdom (where Israel's 12 tribes split into separate kingdoms known as 'Israel'/the North and 'Judah'/the South) to the eventual exile of both nations. The Prophets are individual books telling of the life and words of individual prophets, like Micah. These prophets were righteous Israelites from Israel and Judah, called by God to act as His mouthpiece to speak to the people. This was because the kings and priesthood were often corrupt and thus God was unable to lead and speak to His people. During the divided kingdom (a timespan of over 300 years) God's people rebelled against His instruction and covenant, spiralling into sin and rejection of Him. The different prophets often came with words to warn the Israelites of their sin and the consequences that will come, calling them back to repentance and to God. The prophecy part of the Prophets spoke of upcoming judgement, such as being exiled, or of the future hope of the coming Messiah and the establishing of the Church Age. Very few prophecies in this portion of the Bible are, I believe, unfulfilled.
So enjoy the book of Micah. It was written to the Southern kingdom, Judah, and calls them out for their social injustice and wealth disparity. I love how feisty it is for its size and think we have much to learn from these ancient words for today, once we first study what the text meant then. Below are some definitions and explanations of terms I used in my teaching, as well as images from my presentation:
- 'OA' - this is 'Original Audience', a term used to refer to the characters in the story, such as Micah and the people of Judah
- 'OR' - this is 'Original Readers' and refers to those the book of Micah was written to
- 'BRI' - this is 'Basic Required Information' and refers to a part of the student's homework where they have to write an explanation on the book before they study it, looking at authorship and relevant history (etc.)
- 'Critical method' - this is a portion of the BRI that focuses on authorship, when the book was written, when the prophecies were spoken (and so on)
- 'Historical method' - this is a portion of the BRI that answers what historically was going on at the time, such as which kings were ruling and which empires were growing and what the sins of the people were
- 'Horizontal' - this refers to a horizontal chart that the students create to visually show the structure of a book
- 'Lawsuit oracle' - this is a type of oracle with the layout of a courtroom where God is the judge accusing specific audiences of sin. It is identified by language like, "Thus says the Lord," and Micah is full of them
- 'Woe oracle' - this is a type of oracle that begins, "Woe" or "Alas" and comes in two parts: 'reason for distress' (a description of the current sins) and 'proclamation of doom' (a prophecy of what judgement will come as a result)
- 'Salvation oracle' - this is a type of oracle that uses lofty language like, "In that day" and describes future restoration with imagery that seems too good to be true, like the lion laying with the lamb
- Lament - these are emotional songs that express sadness at disaster and are sometimes prophetic (describing future events) though are sometimes simply a means of describing events
- 'Telescoping' - a photography term used to explain prophecies that refer to multiple future events as if they happen at the same time (like referring to future exile as well as the coming of the Messiah)
- 722BC - Samaria, the capital of Israel/the Northern kingdom was captured by Assyria and the Israelites were exiled out of their land
- 701BC - Judah/the Southern kingdom was attacked by the Assyrians who laid siege on Jerusalem but their siege failed
- 586BC - Judah was exiled by Babylon
- 538BC - Babylon fell to Persia and the Judeans were permitted to return (from Babylon) to their land if they wanted to. The few that returned get called the 'faithful remnant'