From God’s Problem:
The writings of the prophets are among the most misunderstood parts of the Bible today, in no small measure because they are commonly read out of context.14 Many people today, especially conservative Christians, read the prophets as if they were crystal-ball gazers predicting events that are yet to transpire in our own time, more than two thousand years removed from when the prophets were actually speaking. This is a completely egocentric approach to the Bible (it’s all about me!). But the biblical writers had their own contexts and, as a result, their own agendas. And those contexts and agendas are not ours. The prophets were not concerned about us; they were concerned about themselves and the people of God living in their own time. It is no wonder that most people who read the prophets this way (they’ve predicted the conflict in the Middle East! they foresaw Saddam Hussein! they tell us about Armageddon!) simply choose to read one or another verse or passage in isolation, and do not read the prophets themselves in their entirety. When the prophets are read from beginning to end, it is clear that they are writing for their own times. They often, in fact, tell us exactly when they were writing—for example, under what king(s)—so that their readers can understand the historical situation they were so intent on addressing.