The prophets’ functions were as follows:
1. To foretell the future.
Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
2. To explain God’s purpose with the earth.
Isaiah 45:18 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.
Numbers 14:21 But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.
Habakkuk 2:14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
That God will one day set up a kingdom on earth which will last forever.
Daniel 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
3. To explain why we die
Ezekiel 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die.
4. To explain God’s plan of redemption through a Redeemer
Isaiah 59:20 And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD.
God’s promises for the future allow the faithful to live in hope.
Psalms 130:7 Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.
Psalms 16:9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
5. To foretell the coming of the Redeemer, his rejection, manner of death and his resurrection.
Psalms 22:16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. 18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
Psalms 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hel (sheol – the grave)l; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Isaiah 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
John 1:45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
Luke 24:25… O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
6. To call people to repent of their evil way of life and keep God’s commandments.
Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
Jeremiah 4:1 If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove.
Malachi 3:7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?
God promised the land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants for an everlasting possession.
Genesis 15:18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:
Genesis 17:4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. 5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. 6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. 8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
In the long term this promise guarantees resurrection from the dead to eternal life for the faithful.
In the short term the tenure of the land depended upon Abraham’s natural descendants obeying God’s commandments.
The twelve tribes of Israel were Abraham’s natural descendants and at the exodus from Egypt God made a covenant with them.
God gave them a Law and a choice.
If they obeyed God’s Law they would remain in the land.
If they disobeyed God’s Law they would be removed from the land and scattered amongst the nations.
Deuteronomy 30:15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; 16 In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. 17 But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; 18 I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. 19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: 20 That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
Israel turned away from God and embraced the idolatry of the nations around them.
In the days of the judges, Israel turned to idol worship.
After Solomon turned to idolatry the nation was split into two.
The Southern kingdom consisting of Judah and Benjamin was called Judah.
The northern kingdom consisting of the other ten tribes was called Israel.
Both kingdoms forsook God and turned to idolatry.
God sent prophets to remonstrate with them.
Jeremiah 7:25 Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them:
The message was the same – turn back to God or be removed from the land.
7. To foretell the future restoration of Israel in the kingdom of God.
Interspersed with the promised punishment were prophecies of the future restoration of the kingdom to Israel through their promised Redeemer.
Through these prophets we learn:
1. That the nation would reject their Redeemer and be scattered among all nations.
2. That non-Jews would be given the opportunity of future possession of the earth in the kingdom of God.
Isaiah 49:6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
3. That Israel as a nation will be restored in the last days.
Isaiah 2:2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. 3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
The northern kingdom was removed from the land by Assyria and the southern kingdom temporarily by Babylon and more permanently by Rome.
The future restoration of the combined kingdom is assured by the prophets.
See for example Ezekiel 37 to 48 and Zechariah 12 to 14.
The character of the prophets
Although drawn from different occupations the character of the prophets is described as ‘holy’.
2 Peter 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
I hope you find this helpful.