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Israel and Judah, and many other nations. He declares the judgments of God upon ingratitude, hypocrisy, and rebellion ; and, in the last chapter, foretells the rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem, and the return of the Jews from captivity
The vision of Obadiah, who prophesied 585 years before Christ, is contained in a single chapter, which
declares the destruction of the descendants of Esau, who was the father of the nations of the Edomites, or Idumeans; the *superiority of the descendants of Jacob, and concludes with foretelling the fuller glory of Zion, where the future Saviour should arise, and establish his kingdom.
The prophecy of Jonah is addressed to the people of Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrian empire, whose downfall is predicted as a judgment upon their idolatry and wickedness. He records the remarkable punishment which he himself experienced for delaying to execute the divine command which directed him to proclaim this judgment. The repentance of the Ninevites is also shown,
which turned away the anger of God from them until 170 years after, when they relapsed into wickedness, their city was destroyed, and the empire was entirely subdued. It should be observed, that the Books of the Prophets are not arranged in our Bible according to their date, that of Jonah being the earliest ; he prophesied 840 years before Christ.
Micah prophesied in Judea 750 years before the birth of Christ, foretelling the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem. In the fourth chapter we read a beautiful prediction of the establishment of the Christian Church, and of the birth of the Messiah at Bethlehem, which he mentions by
He shows the future dispersion of the Jews, and the completion of all the promises made to Abraham.
The prophecies of Nahum are confined to the destruction of Nineveh, and the kingdom of Assyria; they were delivered 715 years before the Christian era.
Habakkuk, who prophesied 605 years before Christ, recounts the visions by which the Baby
lonian captivity was miraculously shown to him, and the subsequent fate of that empire. The third chapter contains the prayer of the Prophet, which cannot be read without great admiration. It concludes with an eloquent declaration of his confidence in the God of his salvation.
In the reign of King Josiah, 630 years before Christ, Zephaniah prophesied the desolation of Jerusalem, Nineveh, Moab, and other devoted cities and nations. He exhorted the Jews to repentance, and to await with submission their future restoration to God's favour, when Christ's universal kingdom should be established.
The prophet Haggai returned from Babylon with his countrymen, in the year 520 before Christ; when, under the decree of Cyrus, they were restored to Jerusalem. He encourages them to rebuild the Temple, and to obtain the favour of God in completing that pious work; promising that it shall far excel the former in glory, not by the beauty of the building, but by the future appearance within its walls of the Messiah, whose coming he announces.
Zechariah, who flourished at the
time, prophesies in like manner the coming of Christ and the Jews' final restoration.
In the 9th chapter he exactly describes his public entrance into Jerusalem, as related afterwards by St. John; in the 11th chapter he speaks of the thirty pieces of silver by which he was to be betrayed; in the 12th chapter he mentions the piercing of his body on the cross.
These minute prophesies being so exactly fulfilled are referred to by St. Matthew, St. John, and others, in relating the circumstances, of our Saviour's death. We come
now to Malachi, the last of the Prophets, who delivered his predictions 400 years before the birth of our Saviour. In Malachi the spirit of prophecy ceased; when the great design of Providence in appointing such a dispensation to prepare
way for that great event had been completed. For it is to be observed that the great object of prophecy was to warn the people from their crimes ; to preserve in them the worship of the true God ; to remind them of the ancient promises of the Almighty to Moses, Abraham, and others; and finally to declare the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to redeem them and all mankind from the eternal consequence of sin.
Malachi begins with lamenting the perverseness and continued impiety of Israel. He reasons with them in the name of God for their stubborn wickedness, and in particular severely reproves the priests for corrupting his worship. In the 3rd chapter he makes known the coming of John the Baptist, as the forerunner of Christ. He declares that the Messiah will appear in his holy temple at Jerusalem, who will invite his people to return from their errors, and will send his blessing upon all nations. Lastly, he exhorts them to keep the Law of Moses, and assures them that God would at the appointed time send his Messenger to prepare the way before the promised Messiah ; which prophecy was fulfilled in St. John the Baptist, who came in the spirit and power of the ancient Prophet Elijah, and preached the Gospel of Christ a few months before our blessed Lord.
In conclusion, let us reflect on the last words of the prophet Hosea : “Who is wise, and he will