Our Biblical history in part was given to us by the prophets.
Hobart Freeman (1994) states;
“The divine origin of the prophetic institution is set forth by Moses himself in
Deuteronomy 18:9-22. Moses, who never came into direct contact with the religious
institutions of Canaan, declared in this passage that there was to be an institution of
prophets raised up who would declare the messages of God, and that this office would
one day culminate in one great Prophet like unto himself.”
We were told by Moses that we would see a long line of prophets who will lead up to one great
Prophet, who we know as the Messiah Jesus Christ. Knowing this long line of prophets will
teach you a lot about our Biblical history.
There are two broad categories of prophets: pre-canonical and canonical. Pre-canonical
covers the prophets before the ninth century B.C. and those are the prophets who left no written
records of their prophetic messages (Freeman, H. pg. 27). Freeman states that the canonical
period began with Obadiah (c. 845 B.C.).
The pre-canonical period can be divided into subdivisions. These subdivisions consist of
the pre-Mosaic period (Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph are considered
prophets of the Old Testament era), the Mosaic period (the works of Moses, Miriam, Aaron, and
Deborah), and the period of Samuel. During the Mosaic period, there was also an anonymous
prophet sent by God. This was recorded in Scripture. Judges 6:8 (NKJV) states;
“That the Lord sent a prophet to the children of Israel, who said to them, “Thus says the
Lord God of Israel: “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of
The canonical period is divided up differently than the pre-canonical period. This period
begins with Obadiah (c. 845 B.C.), although there is an overlap with the nonliterary prophet
Elisha (852 to 796 B.C.). This period is divided up by the four Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah,
Ezekiel, and Daniel) and the twelve Minor Prophets.
Both periods hold key persons. Beginning in the subcategories of the pre-canonical era;
we see for example, in the pre-Mosaic period Enoch (who foretold the coming of the Lord and
the ten thousand saints), and Noah (the coming of the flood and the period after the flood). Both
Enoch and Noah prophesized in the arena of judgment by the hands of the Lord. Jude 1:14-15
“Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold,
the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all
who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an
ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against
In the Mosaic period, the key person is the periods namesake; Moses. Freeman states;
“The work of Moses gave an entirely new emphasis to prophecy and the function of the
prophet. Prediction is largely subordinated to preaching and teaching. His ministry was
largely didactic; he was Israel’s lawgiver with an emphasis upon ethical monotheism.”
Moses was an authority figure, as was Enoch and Noah. This is a nuance that is particular to the
pre-canonical period. These men all had certain characteristics that are held by men of authority.
We see this trend continue with the period of Samuel. The key person is Samuel. Again, like Enoch, Noah, and Moses; Samuel is an authority figure and holds to the characteristics of a leader.
The canonical period is different than the pre-canonical period. The key persons are the
four Major Prophets; Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. This period held a different nuance
to it, as this was one where the prophets were not seen as authority figures, but as
anti-establishment, and in many cases were punished because of it. Isaiah’s prophecy was
sometimes ignored and Daniel was thrown in the lion’s den. These men were much more
humble than those in the pre-canonical period. In the canonical period, there is vast oppression.
This is something that all of the Major Prophets dealt with.
The prophets are of key-importance in our Biblical history. They foretold of the Lord’s
judgment, and of the coming of the Messiah Jesus Christ. God gave each of them the gift of
prophecy for a certain calling. Knowing where these prophets came from, and the era in which
they lived help us to better understand this part of our history. This is why prophecy holds a
place of great importance to Christianity and to the church.