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"And if you say in your heart, 'How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?'--"when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken"
- Deuteronomy 18
The history of the rise and fall of the Hebrew nation are found in the history books (Genesis-Esther). The prophets appeared during the days of the fall of the Hebrew nation. At the moment of the apostasy of the 10 tribes at the close of Solomon's reign and Israel's golden age the ministry of the prophets began. The prophets gave a wake up call as soon as people began to forget God.
Prophets of the Assyrian Period Jonah Joel Amos Hosea Isaiah Micah Zephaniah Nahum
Prophets of the Babylonian Period Jeremiah Habakkuk Ezekiel Obadiah Daniel
Prophets of the Persian Period Haggai Zechariah Malachi
God warned Israel and Judah over and over again through the prophets. The people forsook God, worshipped idols, did injustice, and loved evil. But God was kind enough to forewarn them of coming judgments because of sin and apostasy, and he would do marvelous miracles through the prophets that would give them hope and encouragement. The prophets even revived their faith in the coming Messiah and His glorious Kingdom. Prophets like Jeremiah warned both Israel and Judah even after it was too late and there was no chance for recovery.
Then you shall break the flask in the sight of the men who go with you, "and say to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: Even so I will break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter's vessel, which cannot be made whole again; and they shall bury them till there is no place to bury. "Thus I will do to this place," says the LORD, "and to its inhabitants, because of all the houses on whose roofs they have burned incense to all the host of heaven, and poured out drink offerings to other gods. "Then Jeremiah came from Tophet, where the LORD had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the Lord's house and said to all the people, "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: 'Behold, I will bring on this city and on all her towns all the doom that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their necks that they might not hear My words.'"
God was also very clear about prophets who spoke falsely and worked miracles to back up their words:
"If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, "and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods'-- which you have not known--' and let us serve them,' "you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
'But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.' "And if you say in your heart, 'How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?'--"when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.