The Prophets and Prophecy
PARTLY from accidental circumstances and partly from their nature, the prophetic writings have not received from the ordinary Bible reader that share of attention which they deserve. There are many persons who have no taste for poetry, and who have a positive repugnance to poetry which is also obscure. They have therefore no patience with some of the profoundest and most elevating writing of our own and other times. They will not condescend to read a line twice over: they throw aside whatever they do not comprehend at a first reading…
Now, no doubt this obscurity is greater than it need be. In our present English version of the Bible, the prophetic writings are both imperfectly arranged and imperfectly translated. They are arranged not, as we should naturally expect, in chronological order, but apparently according to their length or supposed importance, if, indeed, any principle has been adhered to in the matter.
Manifestly we are thus put at a great disadvantage for understanding the prophets.
They were a series of men, not disconnected individuals. They were sent by God one after another to complete gradually the whole revelation He designed to make. They were usually sent in connection with events then happening; and to ignore all this arrangement, and treat them as if they might as well have spoken in any other order and at any other time than they did, is to lose a great deal both of the interest which attaches to the lives of the prophets, and of the point of their predictions…
The first step we [must] take towards understanding the prophets is to arrange the letters according to their dates. All is confusion till we do so.
(Marcus Dods D.D. 1879)