OK, I admit it. I’m having trouble distinguishing one prophet from another. So I’ll lift some helpful information out of one of our handouts. Here are similarities and differences among the four major 8th century prophets.
Amos, Hosea, Isaiah of Jerusalem, and Micah prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah in Judah and Jeroboam II in Israel. They agreed on several important issues:
- Assyria would invade Israel/Judah soon with disastrous results.
- This was Yahweh’s choice and action, due to the sins of the kings, priests and leaders of the people.
- Central sins were idolatry against God and injustice against the people (the poor).
- Through these events would come restoration and renewal of the covenant.
They differed in their call, their methods, their backgrounds. Amos and Hosea’s primary audience was Israel, the northern kingdom; Isaiah and Micah’s primary audience was Judah, the southern kingdom.
- Amos, a shepherd, focused on injustice of the people and the Day of Yahweh, which allows only a small hope for the future.
- Hosea, a Levitical farmer, focused on the idolatry and rebellion of the people by reflecting on the hopeful possibilities of reconciling with his adulterous wife and dysfunctional children.
- Isaiah, from the elite of Jerusalem, focused on the monarchy and temple as a sign of God’s continuing desire to be Emmanuel despite the failures of the people.
- Micah, town elder, focused on the importance of the land that God gave his people as a pledge of future fidelity.