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Timeline;- The kings and prophets of Israel

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posted on Dec, 16 2016 @ 05:01 PM
The prophets of Israel were part of the history of Israel and its kings.
That needs to be clearly understood.
With my background in the study of history, I find it natural to look for the backbone of chronology that runs through events.
So I read the Old Testament in the same way, looking for the backbone that holds it together.
The prophets are not living in a vacuum. They are attached to different points in this backbone, and we understand their prophecy better by reading it in the right context.

The connections between the kings and the prophets can be shown as a diagram, because I’ve done it in the past. It still exists in the form of a transparency for overhead projectors. I doubt if I can make that work as an ATS post, so I must try to draw this picture in words (hoping that people can build up the same kind of diagram in their minds).
Over the last couple of years, I’ve already presented a number of threads which cover most of the same ground.
Linking to those threads will help to put some flesh on the backbone.

The time of judges

There were prophets before there were kings.
Moses was the first, of course.
After Joshua brought the people into the land, there was a time when “there was no king in Israel, and every man did that which was right in his own eyes”. Different people were brought forward as judges and military leaders.
One of these judges was the prophetess Deborah, the first known prophet after the time of Moses.
So my threads on the prophets began with
The Biblical prophetess
(First conceived as a thread about Deborah, then expanded to the Biblical prophetess in general).

The united kingdom

Saul- David- Solomon

Samuel marks the transition between the time of judges and the time of kings.
He spends most of his life as a judge in his own right.
Then he is “retired” from that post, and becomes God’s agent in the appointment of Saul.

Samuel’s legacy
The phrase “From prophet’s king to king’s prophet” describes a spectrum of relationships between the ruling kings and the prophets who were sent to advise them.
Samuel, with Saul, stands at one end of the spectrum. He anoints, and rebukes, and finally rejects the king.

David takes advice from Nathan, accepting rebuke.
His reign illustrates how a man may be pleasing to God without strict obedience to the laws of Moses;
David the lawbreaker
He and the other kings exercised the right to offer incense and sacrifice on the altars, suggesting that the priests did not originally have a monopoly on access to God.
Old Testament sacrifice without priests.

David’s reign also has remarkably full information about the brute realities of the politics of the kingdom, even if most of it is provided for the purpose of building up a case against Joab;
Joab and Abner
Joab and Absolom
Joab and Amasa

Finally, there is a very tense and dramatic day which decides who will follow David on the throne;
The succession crisis

The main event of Solomon’s reign was the building of the Temple, which prompts the question;
Did God want a Temple in Jerusalem?

As far as we can tell, Solomon was not listening to any prophet. So the prophets are invisible in his time until Ahijah the Shilonite emerged to offer half the kingdom to another man;
The dividing of Solomon’s kingdom

When the two kingdoms were on the point of dividing, Rehoboam prepared to reinstate his rule by force. However, the “man of God” Shemaiah came forward to restrain him and avert open civil war.

The first kings of Judah

Rehoboam- Abijam- Asa
These kings don’t have much recorded history. There are wars with Israel, invasions from Egypt.
Presumably the religious life of the kingdom was focussed on the Temple. Prophets play little part in these reigns, though Chronicles tells us about prophecies given by Shemiah and by Azariah the son of Oded.

The first kings of Israel

Jeroboam and his son Nadab
Baasha and his son Elah
Omri and his son Ahab.
The obstreperous northerners who broke away from the united kingdom established a state which was politically unstable.
"The killing of kings in kingdom Israel";
Apart from the continuing feud with Judah, the wars with Syria begin during this period.

There were active prophets of the Lord, like the “man of God” who rebuked Jeroboam in Bethel, like Ahijah the Shilonite and Jehu the son of Hanani. However, most of their advice was being neglected.

posted on Dec, 16 2016 @ 05:02 PM
The Baal-conflict

In Israel, Ahab- Ahaziah- Jehoram
In Judah, Jehoshaphat- Jehoram- Ahaziah- Athaliah

I give this label to a brief interval when the histories of the two kingdoms were very closely connected.
Ahab’s marriage to Jezebel introduced into the kingdom a long struggle between the God of Israel and the god of Sidon.
Her chief opponent was Elijah, of course. He got left out of my previous threads on the prophets, partly because I hadn’t found the right angle. I may end up doing a comparison thread of Elijah with Moses.
Most of the prophets of the time were what I call “king’s prophets”, who told the king what he wanted his people to hear.
At the end of Ahab’s reign, there was a dramatic confrontation between one of these prophets and Micaiah the son of Imlah, one of the genuine prophets of the Lord.
Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah

Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, was present at this confrontation, and helped to set it up.
He had been promoting God’s law in the governance of his own kingdom;
He was now visiting Ahab in order to re-establish good relations between the two states. One of the results was an arranged marriage between his son Jehoram and Ahab’s daughter Athaliah. Following this conference, he took part in the battle with the Syrians near Ramoth-Gilead. Ahab got killed in this battle, having failed in his rather unfriendly attempt to divert the Syrian arrows onto Jehoshaphat’s chariot.
Jehoshaphat the teacher

After Ahab’s death. Jezebel remained powerful in Israel, as mother of Ahaziah and Jehoram.
After Jehoshaphat’s death, Athaliah was powerful in Judah as wife of Jehoram and mother of Ahaziah (deliberately, I assume, taking the names of their counterparts in Israel).
Both women were exerting their influence for the god Baal.
Then the prophet Elisha prompted Jehu to launch the coup which destroyed the house of Omri in Israel (and also killed the king of Judah).
Jehu and the death of Jezebel
However, Athaliah herself seized power in Judah, and the story of this conflict was not complete until the hidden child Joash had been enthroned in her place.
Athaliah the ruthless

The later kings of Israel

The house of Jehu;
Jehu- Jehoahaz- Jehoash- Jeroboam- Zechariah
Renewed civil war;
Shallum- Menahem- Pekahiah- Pekah- Hoshea

This period, too, is covered in the post previously mentioned;
"The killing of kings in kingdom Israel";

The advice of Elisha the prophet was available to the sons of Ahab and the first kings of the house of Jehu. He was sometimes heeded and sometimes not. However, it is noteworthy that there was a king of Israel (Jehoash) grieving at his death-bed. This does not happen to many prophets, and may be unique.

Jonah the son of Amittai is recorded as predicting the extension of borders which was achieved by Jeroboam (2 Kings ch14 v25).
The reign of Jeroboam also sees the appearance of the first writing prophets, Hosea and Amos. This is not a coincidence. By this time the kings and people of Israel had really stopped listening to the prophets of the Lord, who resorted to placing their prophecies on record instead. Their books show how far the kingdom had departed from the Lord.

Hosea; What’s wrong with Israel?

Hosea; I will give them up

Hosea; I cannot give them up

Hosea; I will bring them back

Amos; What’s wrong with Israel?

Amos; The approach of judgement

Amos; The day of the Lord

Amos; Return to the land

The book of Joel is placed between them in the traditional ordering of the prophets (though it includes prophecies which must have a later date).

From this time, the menace of Assyrian power was getting serious. This brought out the anti-Assyrian prophets Nahum and Habakkuk.
The book of Jonah is set in the same period.
At a later stage, probably next year, I plan to put up threads about the various “prophecies against the nations”, the God of Israel’s response to the hostility of the outside world.

posted on Dec, 16 2016 @ 05:03 PM
The later kings of Judah

I covered this period in two overview threads.

1 ) From Athaliah to Manasseh
Joash- Amaziah- Uzziah- Jotham- Ahaz- Hezekiah- Manasseh- Amon

Joash noticed financial mismanagement in the affairs of the Temple, and introduced an important reform.
The Temple building-fund scandal

I detected a three-way power-struggle between the kings, the priesthood of the Temple, and those who followed the worship of other gods. The priests were trying to escape the control of the kings, which would have been one reason why kings might encourage the religious opposition.
This friction is illustrated by the fate of Uzziah;
Uzziah the leper

We also begin to see the first writing prophets of Judah..
Isaiah began his prophecies in the reign of Uzziah.
Micah began in the reign of Jotham.
In both cases, the original core of their message was criticism of the kingdom and warning of judgement.
Who requires this trampling of my courts?

In the reign of Ahaz, there was a diplomatic reversal in the north. The kings of Israel and Syria came to an agreement against the kingdom of Judah, which then faced an attack from their combined armies. In response, Ahaz called in the help of Assyria against the other two.

This episode prompted Isaiah to offer the prophecy “A young woman shall give birth”. This was originally a promise that the people of Jerusalem would not be starved out by the besieging armies, setting a time-limit for the arrival of fresh food (“before he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good”). Thus the king of Israel, Pekah the son of Remaliah, was the unconscious stepfather of the best-known prophecy in the whole of the Old Testament.
A child is born, called Immanuel

Hezekiah gave his backing to the Temple, removing all the idols that he could find in Jerusalem.
His reign saw the final destruction of the kingdom of Israel, taken into exile by the Assyrians.
Within less than a decade, there followed that great Assyrian invasion of his own kingdom which provoked other prophecies from Isaiah (ch37).
Calling in the army of a distant nation
Why should the axe be boastful?

Manasseh reversed Hezekiah’s policy completely, and encouraged idolatry to the same degree that his father had been suppressing it. He must have expected this attitude to be supported by a large portion of the population.
According to Kings, this reign was decisive in persuading the Lord to give up his protection of the kingdom.

2 ) From Josiah to Nebuchadnezzar
Josiah- Jehoahaz- Jehoiakim- Jehoiachin- Zedekiah

Josiah’s reign stands out for two important events.
He instigated a major reform, not just removing idols, but also centralising the worship of the Lord in Jerusalem. This was the beginning of the national, centralised Passovers.
Unfortunately the other event is the battle of Megiddo, in which he met his death and destroyed the rising hopes of a prospering kingdom focussed upon their God.
The first Armageddon

After Megiddo, everything went downhill.
Jehoiakim was restive under Babylonian supremacy and rebelled. He would have been taken into exile, if he had not died first. His son Jehoiachin was taken instead.
Jeremiah and the stubborn king.
This left Zedekiah to make the mistake of provoking the final siege, trusting in the illusion that Egypt would be able to support him.
Jeremiah and the nervous king

Zephaniah was prophesying during the reign of Josiah.
Jeremiah began his prophecies at the same time, but was more prominent in the last three reigns.
What’s wrong with Jerusalem?
The harlot city
You must free the slaves

Ezekiel was taken into exile with Jehoiachin and began to receive prophecies there. I am currently working on the first drafts of an Ezekiel series.
Thus, for the last six years of the kingdom, Jeremiah and Ezekiel were active simultaneously, on opposite sides of the desert.
Unfortunately, their warning message of judgement was being contradicted by more optimistic self-appointed prophets;
The rival prophets
This had been a recurring problem all the way through the kingdom period;
False prophets in the Old Testament

After the return from exile

When Babylon was conquered by Cyrus, Jerusalem was restored in stages.
Ezra and Nehemiah describe the return of the people, the re-establishment of the laws, and the re-building of the walls.

The prophets Haggai and Zechariah announce the rebuilding of the Temple.
They also hint at a possible restoration of the kingship for Zerubbabel (which does not happen).
Seizing the moment to rebuild the Temple

The last of the minor prophets is Malachi, addressing a priest-led society which has a governor instead of a king.

According to the story in Daniel ch1, Daniel experienced the same Babylonian exile as Ezekiel. On the face of it, they should have been acquainted with one another. However, Ezekiel himself only names Daniel alongside Noah and Job as one of the righteous men of legend (Ezekiel ch14 v20).
The first half of Daniel treats Babylon as a model for the pride of human authority;
Babylon in Daniel;

The second half of Daniel, at least, was written when the Greeks were dominant. The rise and fourfold division of Alexander’s empire is a landmark event noted in three different chapters.
The eleventh chapter is a fairly transparent account of the wars between the Seleucid dynasty of Syria (“the north”) and the Ptolomies of Egypt (“the south”), culminating in the reign of the infamous Antiochus Epiphanes. The verse about the “ships of Kittim” refers to his humiliation at the hands of a Roman envoy, who drew around him the original “circle in the sand”.
However, this account appears to overlap with a description of some future ruler following a similar pattern of kingship.
The king at the appointed time

Thus the story comes round full circle.

Moses was faced by the hostility of worldly rulers, in the shape of the Pharaoh of Egypt.
The book of Judges comes from the time when Israel had no kings.

As long as there was a kingdom, the royal power was either helping or hindering the work of the prophets.

Finally, the book of Malachi comes from a time when Israel had no kings.
While Daniel is faced by the hostility of worldly rulers.

posted on Dec, 18 2016 @ 01:56 PM

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