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Old Testament Prophets: An Analysis

Updated on November 13, 2012

Thus Saith the Lord

The Revolutionary Moral Vision of Isaiah and Jeremiah

by Richard E. Rubenstein

What is a prophet? What is the gift of prophecy, as described in the Book of Acts Ephesians? It is not telling the future or forecasting financial initiatives and trends. It is not divining. It is not having someone predict who you will marry.

Interestingly, many people do not like a prophet, because prophets loosen listeners from their complacency and comfort. A prophet warns the society in which he lives that they must avoid oblivion by returning to or finding solid foundations that support productive group living with integrity.

Unfortunately, many people do not want to hear that. They prefer the status quo.

Prophecy is not condemnation, however; it is a warning to turn away from disaster, not an irrevocable doomsday curse. It is also not Chicken Little shouting that the sky is falling and we need to look for that crucial difference.

Isaiah the Prophet

Jeremiah the Prophet

Jeremiah (photos public domain)
Jeremiah (photos public domain)

A Rough Life

Some do not want to hear that the mental results of mind-altering recreational drugs are a weak excuse for living life to its potentials. Others complain, "There are no jobs, when perhaps they do not want to put for the effort to find effective help in job seeking." Some do not want to accept the fact that abuse of over a dozen kinds plagues society worldwide and results in human rights violations, such as pimping out disabled teen beggars or 10-year-old prostitutes outside the Beijing Olympics or of killing Tibetan monks out of hand. Sudanese that declare Christianity have their arms cut off by the government. Some women are legally killed by their own families if an unrelated man sees a bare arm. Abu Grahib. Those two words are a description by themselves. Hurricane Katrina -- Another two words of human disaster. Tsunami aftermath. Racial genocide. All in the 21st century.

Sexism and Agism

Women are kept locked in closets or basement for decades in the US and Eastern Europe alike. Compounds of polygamists mishandle children who really do not know which men are their fathers. US health care and medications are too expensive, while there is a core group that once discussed denying any medial care at all to individuals after the age of 75. Full retirement benefits will be delayed to older and older ages until the goal of 75 years old is reached (is was already 67 in 2008).

One Chicago summer in the 1990s, a high-rise retirement center was the scene of 300+ deaths caused by broken air conditioning and windows built to not open in order to protect seniors from fatal falls out of upper story windows. No action was taken to help these people, so they cooked. A later French summer saw 100s of seniors die in the heat wave during a mass vacationing to other regions by the elders' children. While the world is overpopulated in the early 21st century, this is not the best way to control the problem.

Isaiah 53 - Whose report will we believe?

Adventures in Prophecy

Author Richard Rubenstein provides a compelling book of high adventure straight out of the Old Testament. He accomplished this through thorough studies of the the historical texts in original and translated languages. They cover pertinent eras of the Old Testament, high lighted with relevant scriptures.

Thus Saith the Lord provides an in-depth character study of the prophets Isaiah, Elijah, Elisha, and Jeremiah in their own time in a way that rings attention to their unique characteristics as prophets. Noting these attributes can help determine the prophets of today, compared to the crackpots.

The four men chosen by Rubenstein from the Old Testament were serious in their roles as prophets and would not take "no" for an answer when delivering their heart-felt warnings. The believed in the truth they were delivering and would die if necessary to get the message to the people that needed it.

Who are the prophets of the 21st century, (for prophecy has indeed not passed away)? Reading more closely about these Old Testament four should help us decide more clearly.

Poetry or Fire?

Jeremiah and Isaiah were both advisers to various kings and priests in Israel and Judah.

They, and others, warned society to resurrect their moral foundations to eliminate the problems of society in that day. To these men, it was their spiritual and professional calling to do so. Often, their words were not attended and war and other disasters befell certain populations. The dire results of prophecies' fulfillment were averted with action from the people who listened and organized to avoid calamity. However, all of the prophesies were fulfilled. Some individuals and groups feel that these are all legends; however, there is reason to believe that they are not, as follows:

Prophets often use different language devices to convey their messages.

Isaiah used poetry while Jeremiah used fire and brimstone.

It seems that every portion of the Book of Isaiah is poetic prophecy and this is even more clear in the original language than in any English Translation. In the 1970s, the Australian Wiinkey Pratney presented a series of lectures concerning the format of the Old and New Testaments, garnered from literary and mathematics research studies. The findings are that in the original languages, despite their being multiple authors at different times, the Old Testament is the only piece of literature in Hebrew that contains the pattern and number of syllables per line that is found there.

The same is true of the New Testament in its original languages. It is doubtful that authors over the course of 6,000 years of this writing would know about, or even care to follow, a tradition of such patterns and syllable counts. This is one basis for concluding that scripture is inspired by a single, higher source.

Who Are Our Heroes Today?

Elijah and Elisha were earlier Old Testament prophets, speaking messages from God and doing exploits to gain the peoples' ear in order to warn the leadership of the Middle East of impending calamity. Since that time, there has seemingly always been war in the Middle East.

In the 21st century, we search for heroes, but the chosen sports figures and starlets let us down hard and so have government leaders. On Stan Lee's superhero reality show, we see the deadly flaws in some that consider themselves heroes and they are wrong. Where can we find heroes? Prophets are sometimes considered too honest for hero status. We may want heroes that are not too heroic; we have our limits of tolerance. Heroes are troublemakers.

Rubenstein's chapter titles are interesting: If YHVH Is God, Follow Him!-Elijah, I Kings 18:21, The Heart Is More Devious Than Any Other Thing-Jeremiah 17:9, and I Will Make You the Light of the Nations-Isaiah 49:6.

Who are today's prophets?

Submit a Comment
  • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

    Patty Inglish MS 

    6 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

    Wow! Thanks for the powerful comments, Seba40! I have indeed seen formerly strong preachers back off and even become much more like the rest of the world in the last couple of years.

  • profile image

    José Sebastião Silva 

    6 years ago from Brazil

    Great hub! My coments: I think the former prophets paid with their lives for warning the wicked people and what they predicted took place if people did not changed their lives. Today is on the opposite. I see the prophets shut up to save their lives and those who face death and say the punishments never take place.

    I think the last prophet died thousands of years ago and what He said is going to happen and take us unaware because we are following false prophets.

  • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

    Patty Inglish MS 

    7 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

    Glad you find it interesting!

  • yellow2mato profile image


    7 years ago from Texas

    I haven't read this entire hub, but plan to when I have more free time. It is a topic about which I am very interested. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

  • CJ Williams profile image

    CJ Williams 

    9 years ago

    Very interesting hub. I teach Old Testament for a living and I'm always interested in perspectives like this. Thanks!

  • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

    Patty Inglish MS 

    9 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

    Sex, gambling, and drug abuse ARE taking over millions of lives - The crime rate is increasing:

  • profile image 

    9 years ago

    The crime rate is declining. There is less murder by one citizen of another. People today who are turning away from God are not necessarily walking up to people on the streets and slicing their organs out. Most people have their human morals in tact (although not their Christian morality). I believe its going to come down to turning away from and denying God. We'll know the end times are near when things like sex, gambling, and drug abuse takes over the peoples lives.

  • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

    Patty Inglish MS 

    11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

    I noticeably woke up and smelled the smoke in the late 1980s when a Las Vegas prostitute was found dead in a hotel bathtub, her thoracic organs having been sliced out for sale. Just a few days before, someone had asked me when we will know the end times are more quickly approaching - I had replied, "When "they" start walking up to people on the street, slicing out their organs for the black market."

    Individuals can develop a skill for discernment that can be applied to the quality of prophecy and other matters. It takes time, but can be acquired. The mroe familiar we are with scriptures in their correct translations and cultural contexts, the more often we are able to determine if current prophecy fits with the Bible and with known history.

    Thanks for the comments, SirDent. Alwsys a pleasure.

  • profile image


    11 years ago

    Well, anyone can prophesy or proclaim the Word of the Lord. It doesn't take a theologian to preach. It takes a special anointing from God Himself for someone to actually minister. I'm sure there are many prophets out there in the world today. I do know there are many false prophets.

    Jesus taught self denial. Most beliefs in this day and time teach self realization, (calling themselves God). As for true prophets today, I probably know a few. But I couldn't tell you which is true and which is false.

    This hub really has me thinking about some things. Do you smell smoke? :P

  • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

    Patty Inglish MS 

    11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

    Thanks Sir Dent.

    I hope, too, that readers can post some comments about other people that they feel are the prophets for us today.

  • profile image


    11 years ago

    I read this just after it was posted. I wasn't sure what to say in a comment so I gave it a thumbs up and left. It is a very indepth article and has shown me a few things I didn't know. It is very well written and easy to follow. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

    Patty Inglish MS 

    11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

    I look at the human species killing itself with genocide, murder, fake manipulated food shortages, elder abuse, and too many easy abortions (instead of birth control, for instance) and think that this is not the way to cure overpopulation. A warning is surely in order. Those that say these things are red flags are often branded as evil by others that do not want to hear it.

  • LdsNana-AskMormon profile image

    Kathryn Skaggs 

    11 years ago from Southern California

    Hi Patty -

    Of course, I love love love this Hub and how you have presented the very practical nature of what a prophet was, and I believe still is... which is to warn the people of the day from those things that would cause them spiritual harm and ultimately unhappiness.

    Prophets are watchmen on the tower... who see the bigger picture and that which is afar off.

    Unfortunately, those today - who speak out against the morals of the day are seen as bigots and judgemental versus loving leaders who seek the best for all of mankind.

    I too, enjoy the Old Testament and strive to understand how it is pertinent to our day, today.

    Wonderful job here.



  • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

    Patty Inglish MS 

    11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

    I am glad to see so many comments. The Old Testament is intriguing and I attempt to learn as much about it, including the original meanings of the original texts in their societal context, as possible. Noam Chomsky is someone whose work I will read more often now.

    And yes, prophets are not only NOT heroes in their own time, but sometimes seen as villians, aren't they?

    Thanks again for the discussion thread.

  • In The Doghouse profile image

    In The Doghouse 

    11 years ago from California


    Very nice Hub, the book sounds intriguing. I love the Old Testament and study it regularly. It is one of my favorite books of scripture. I agree that the Old Testament prophets were heroes, just as the prophets of today are. However they did not reach hero status in their time, much similar to the prophets of today. Prophets are alive and well and still warn, testify and teach, it is the pattern of the Lord.

  • CJStone profile image

    Christopher James Stone 

    11 years ago from Whitstable, UK

    Personally I would say that Noam Chomsky is our prophet of the moment, and he fits your main criterion of what a prophet should do: "A prophet warns the society in which he lives that they must avoid oblivion by returning to or finding solid foundations that support productive group living with integrity". Great hub.

  • Nicki B profile image

    Nicki B 

    11 years ago from Orange County, Ca

    These are some great little bios... but I think in the last section you really bring out a great point. Who are our heroes today? What are the deciding factors in calling someone a hero? Lovely hub, thank you for sharing.

    -Nicki B.

  • Wehzo profile image

    Nathaniel Stalling Jr 

    11 years ago from Detroit, MI

    Wonderful hub Patty. I love the pics and the way you put it together. You obviously did your research. You've added to my Old Testament knowledge, thank you.

    God Bless.


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