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.

Last Words

The Jews of the Southern Kingdom were taken into captivity by the Babylonians in 586 BC. The first contingent of Jews returned in 538-539 BC, soon after King Cyrus of the Persians conquered Babylon. The second contingent returned in 458 BC under Ezra, and the third contingent returned in 445 BC under Nehemiah.

Ezra’s goal was to improve the situation of the Jews who had previously returned. He had approval of the Persian government, and brought donations and holy vessels to the Temple. The Persian government supported the trip by giving Ezra supplies.

Ezra realized the situation in Israel had deteriorated over the previous decades. Political harassment from local leaders, intermarriage with other ethnic groups, and heavy taxes were burdens for the Jews. Their culture was under siege.

The efforts of Ezra to help his people were so successful that the local politicians appealed to the Persians to stop his efforts. The Persians managed to stop the work on the city walls for a period of time.

Ezra, Malachi
Primary Scriptures:
Ezra, Nehemiah, Malachi
Story Summary:
Return of the Jews from exile to Jerusalem and Judah
538-43 BC