Kings & Prophets

Few Christians have a deep understanding of the Old Testament kings of Israel, or the prophets and their messages. The purpose of this series is to allow anybody to quickly gain a better understanding of those things, as well as an appreciation of how that information is relevant today. The Old Testament prophets were real people who proclaimed important messages from God that have stayed true for thousands of years. Jesus and the apostles thought the kings and prophets were important, so we should, too.

It is no wonder that few Christians have deep familiarity of the kings and prophets. Christians tend to read the New Testament, while the kings and prophets are in the Old Testament. The books of the kings and prophets  are not arranged in chronological order, the history of ancient Israel and its neighbors is complex, and the geography of the region is an ever-shifting jigsaw puzzle. The language of the prophets is often symbolic or metaphorical, and the intended messages seem to be shrouded in mystery. Lastly, many people assume that Old Testament prophecies have mostly been fulfilled, so they must not still be very important.

Perhaps our attitudes would change if we thought of prophets as truth tellers, not fortune tellers. Their truths stand important today. Besides, it may be that a number of their prophecies of the future have not yet been fulfilled.

Such a Time As This

The Jews from the Southern Kingdom were taken into exile into Babylon in 586 BC. The Babylonians were conquered by King Cyrus of the Persians in 538 or 539 BC. Shortly after that, he sent either one or two smallish delegations of Jews back to Jerusalem under the leadership of Sheshbazzar and Zerubbabel. Those stories are found in the book of Ezra and Haggai.

The purpose of those returns was to rebuild the Temple and reinstitute worship there. The Jews were not as diligent as they should have been. Also, the people who had been living in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas greatly opposed what the Jews were doing, and got the Persians to temporarily stop them.

Zechariah and Haggai wrote to warn the Jews of God’s impending punishment for their behavior, including their laziness and their intermarriage with non-Jews.

Meanwhile, back in Persia, the remainder of Jews were becoming accustomed to exile, and many were prospering financially. One of them, Esther, became queen to King Xerxes, an opportunity that became available when his former queen, Vashti, did not respect him sufficiently.

Zechariah, Esther
Primary Scriptures:
Zechariah, Haggai, Esther
Story Summary:
The Jews in exile in Babylon and Persia
Babylon, Persia
586-475 BC