In the year 742 B.C.E., Isaiah became a prophet through a vision he had where he saw God and his angels. Seraphim came to Isaiah and touched his lips healing him from all inequity and sins. This event solidified Isaiah's status as an angelic being, chosen by God to speak to his people. During the time of Isaiah, the Assyrian superpower ravaged and annihilated city after city, and the Israelites were trapped in a dangerous time. One of Isaiah's tasks was to encourage and guide the Israelites through this time. Isaiah's text is the longest prophetic text in the Bible, and his voice is that for peace and tolerance. Isaiah is optimistic in his text, that there will be a period in the future of Israel where the nations will be at peace with each other. Isaiah saw that God would protect the Jewish people if only they were to uphold their end of the covenant with God and remain faithful and obedient.
In one of the strangest acts in the Bible, the Prophet Isaiah strips naked and wanders the streets of Israel for 3 years, as a method to dramatically foretell to the people of Israel that the King of Assyria will strip away the captives from Israel after he defeats them (Isaiah 20:2). Isaiah, along with his messages of optimism, also has clear warning for the Israelites and even goes to the king and pleads with him not to align with a foreign alliance. The prophet predicts that these things are going come to pass shortly. But again in his optimistic tone, Isaiah also tells the Hebrews that God's wrath will not last forever and that he will return them from exile and will spare their Temple in Jerusalem. Fulfilling the prophecy of Amos and Isaiah, the Northern Kingdom fell as predicted. Only Jerusalem was spared. The prophet Isaiah is also profoundly important for his words that would change the course of human history, words that later reverberated in the New Testament in the Book of Matthew 1:23, with the telling of the birth of Jesus.
Nearly 100 years after Isaiah, in the year 626 B.C.E., the next great prophet, Jeremiah, emerged. Jeremiah was not unlike any other prophet, for he is called to prophesy before his birth, and there is never a time when Jeremiah is not under the obligation of God. Jeremiah is ordered to forego marriage and children and is to dedicate his life to God and to delivering his word. Jeremiah is commanded by God to wander the streets of Jerusalem relentlessly preaching a message of repentance.
The time of Jeremiah lays witness to the Babylonians invading the northern land, paganism penetrating again in the Promised Land, and the nation itself crumbling. Jeremiah lashes out against idolatry, false prophets, and breaking God's laws. Jeremiah was in constant conflict with the people of Israel and his own family who threatened to kill him. Jeremiah was dismissed as a fool and hated as a traitor for his predictions. Jeremiah was imprisoned for issuing a prophecy of the impending demise of Jerusalem. Jeremiah pleaded to God for assistance, but God instructed Jeremiah to continue his work. After numerous attempts to reach the king and the children of Israel, Jeremiah attempted one dramatic attempt to deliver his message. Wearing a wooden yoke, Jeremiah wandered the streets to symbolize the impending fate of captivity by Babylon. This act had him branded as a traitor, imprisoned, and left to die. Jeremiah was rescued and smuggled to Egypt never again to return to Jerusalem. The prophet's predictions came true, and Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by Babylon. The Jews were exiled to Babylon and became slaves to Babylon. With Jeremiah, the connection of prophecy and politics comes to an end. Jeremiah's inability to gain objective proof for the Hebrews that his message was true was fatal to the prophetic enterprise. The movement remained spiritual but not political.
The last of the great prophets was Ezekiel, a prophet who was nonpolitical in his message but whose message and contribution to Judaism was unlike his predecessors. In Babylon in the year 593 B.C.E., when the Israelites were held captive in Babylon, Ezekiel got his call to prophesy from God. Ezekiel's message was not of repentance or warning, but of comfort. Ezekiel is not a prophet of doom, but of hope. Ezekiel foretold the return of the Jews to their homeland; a prophecy that was eventually fulfilled. Ezekiel's stories are filled with trances, apocalyptic dreams, and a bizarre act in which Ezekiel ingests a scroll as a dramatic gesture to show that the word of God is truly within him. When Ezekiel speaks, he is indeed speaking the word of God. The uniqueness of Ezekiel is seen early in his text, with his details of a chariot vision, with the wheels having heads of creatures spinning around and around. Some contemporary scholars have interpreted Ezekiel's chariot vision to be the first sighting of a flying saucer. Just as Jewish mystics attempted to decipher the true nature of Ezekiel's vision, modern scholars have added their own such interpretations. In addition to Ezekiel's chariot vision, his text addresses Jews in the Diaspora. After the destruction of Jerusalem, Jews were scattered from one end of the world to the other. Ezekiel wanted to show the Israelites that God called to him in a foreign land, in Babylon, not in Jerusalem, and that if God could appear to him in a foreign land, then he could appear anywhere. With this example, emerged a new Jewish thought, that God can be worshipped anywhere. This marks a major turning point in Judaic history, for this realization creates the way for modern Judaism, a time when the Israelites created a new identity as Jews. After the prophet Ezekiel, the age of prophecy begins to wane and eventually disappears completely. It is not known why prophecy ended or even why it began. By the time of Alexander the Great in the year 300 B.C.E., it is clear that prophesy was dead. The prophetic phenomenon had served its purpose of revealing the word of God to teach the children of Israel that they are to follow God's laws and uphold the covenant.
There was a general consensus by the Jewish community that God was not speaking through people anymore, that this was not the way Judaism would evolve. God had said everything that was necessary to humanity. What the people needed now were reminders. These reminders came in the forms of sages and rabbis whose main task is to remind the children of Israel of God's message in the prophetic texts that these great prophets left behind.