This lesson is about the many prophets written about in the Old Testament.
We have already learned about several prophets - Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, and Jonah to name a few. What did they have in common? They were people chosen by God to speak his message to the people (mostly to Israel and Judah, but sometimes to foreign countries as well). These were men who listened to the voice of God and were faithful to tell the word of God to those who needed to hear it, even if it meant they weren't very popular.
There are many stories in the Old Testament about prophets. In fact, there is an entire section of the Old Testament that we refer to as the "Prophets." They are mostly towards the end of the Old Testament, and they are known as either Major or Minor Prophets. Now, just because a book is referred to as a Major Prophet doesn't mean that the prophet was more important than one of the Minor Prophets. It just means that the book was longer!
|Major Prophets||Minor Prophets|
Some of the prophets were told to speak God's word to the Northern Kingdom, and some to the Southern Kingdom. Some were called to speak to Israel and Judah in their captivities (we will learn more about that in the next lesson). Some were called to bring messages from God to other countries.
Take some time to reflect on the Old Testament history we have covered so far. What message do you think God wanted to send to Israel and Judah? Most often, it was a message of judgment (which is why prophets weren't exactly looked upon kindly sometimes). But sometimes it was one of a promised savior in the future. The theme of sackcloth and ashes as a symbol of mourning or repentance is seen many times in the prophets. Sackcloth was an extremely rough and itchy material used to make sacks. When they wore it as clothing and placed ashes on their head, they were intentionally making themselves uncomfortable to show their deep inner discomfort - either in mourning or because they were deeply sorry for their sins.
Here is an overview of the prophetic books and their major themes (adapted from Bible Gateway's tour of the Bible: Major Prophets and Minor Prophets)
|Isaiah||Isaiah called Judah and its kings to repent and come back to God or face judgment. There are many prophecies in Isaiah related to the coming Messiah (Isaiah 53:4-6)|
|Jeremiah||Jeremiah was a "doom and gloom" prophet who warned Judah of judgment if they did not repent. Unfortunately, they didn't repent and the judgment he foretold came true.|
|Lamentations||Lamentations is sort of like a long Psalm by Jeremiah about just one topic: Jerusalem and Judah's sin.|
|Ezekiel||Ezekiel prophesied to Judah during their time in exile in Babylon.|
|Daniel||Daniel was also a prophet to Judah during their captivity in Babylon. We will learn about some of the more famous stories in the book Daniel in coming lessons.|
|Hosea||Hosea called Israel back to God. Israel had begun worshiping other gods and was unfaithful to the one true God. Hosea is known for being a personal object lesson for Israel as God called him to marry an unfaithful woman to show Israel what they were doing to him.|
|Joel||Joel was a prophet to Judah and warned them that they must repent or face judgment.|
|Amos||Amos was a shepherd who was called by God to tell Israel to stop mistreating the poor among them.|
|Obadiah||Obadiah is just one chapter long and is a prophecy against the nation of Edom because they were hostile to Jacob's descendants. Remember, Edom was the name given to Esau, Jacob's twin brother.|
|Jonah||We just learned about Jonah in the last lesson. He was called to prophesy against the city of Ninevah.|
|Micah||Micah warned Judah to turn back to God or face judgment.|
|Nahum||Nahum prophesied against Ninevah as well, but this time after the Assyrians (Ninevah was in the Assyrian empire) had captured the Northern Kingdom of Israel.|
|Habakkuk||Habbakkuk is a book of questions that he had for God. It is similar to the Psalms as it is an honest conversation Habbakkuk is having with God about the evil in the world.|
|Zephaniah||Zephaniah called Judah back to God and promised that the faithful could look forward to when God judged the wicked.|
|Haggai||Haggai prophesied to Judah as they were coming back from exile in Babylon and beginning to rebuild Jerusalem.|
|Zechariah||Zechariah prophesied to those who were returning to Judah from exile in Babylon. He gave some striking prophesies that were fulfilled in the person of Jesus (Zechariah 9:9-10)|
|Malachi||Malachi prophesied to Judah after they returned from Exile in Babylon and called for them to repent.|
Have you ever had to take a message from someone for your parents? What was the message? Did you remember to give the message to them?
Today, we are going to learn about the men in the Old Testament who had a job to bring a message from God to the people of Israel and Judah.
This lesson is a bit different from most Teach Us the Bible lessons in that it doesn't revolve around a single story. You should give them an overview of the Prophets, with the information in the "Story Summary" above as a guide. The key things to get across to them are:
The Egermeier's Bible Story Book contains a nice summary of some of the Minor Prophets in their story called "Five Other Prophets" that you could read to the children as well.
Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud Jeremiah 1:1-10; Isaiah 53:4-6; Obadiah 1
First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?