In his new book How To Read & Understand The Biblical Prophets, author and OT professor Peter J. Gentry discusses the many literary styles Bible prophets used to wake people up to God’s ways and calling on their lives – so many in fact, he suggests “We might well ask if the literature of the biblical prophets actually constitutes its own genre or type of literature.”
For example, “a Hebrew author begins a discourse on a particular topic, develops it from a particular perspective, and then concludes his conversation. Then he begins another conversation, taking up the same topic again from a different point of view.”
In general, the Old Testament prophets reiterated what God had already said or revealed then showed how that word applied to a situation in their era in hopes of encouraging faith and obedience to God.
The prophets also exhorted the people to seek God’s will and rely on God to help them find it. In Deuteronomy 18, for example, Moses strongly warned against contacting mediums, fortune-tellers, sorcerers, witches, or the dead as other nations had done when wanting to know about or, perhaps, control future events. Such control and oversight belong only to God.
Therefore, biblical prophets often gave predictions “to demonstrate publicly that only Yahweh knows and determines future events.”
In addition, “prediction of the future was necessary to explain the exile.” Also, the prophets wanted to reassure God’s people that deliverance takes time, but God can be trusted – not only by them but by everyone. For example, a message “not only announces future judgment for a particular nation but also indicates how it may find deliverance by seeking refuge in Zion.”
With world events worrying many of us, this book from Crossway, who kindly sent me a copy to review, will help us better understand the God’s prophetic word, which speaks to us even now.
Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2017, poet-writer and Bible reviewer
How To Read & Understand The Biblical Prophets, paperback