The Major Prophets are so called because they are longer than the Minor Prophets and when books were written on scrolls these each occupied a separate scroll. These books come first in the Prophets division of the Christian Bible. Within the Prophets division of the Jewish Bible most of them are in a grouping called the Latter Prophets this division also includes the Twelve or what Christians call the Minor Prophets. Lamentations, is a collection of poems so it is found in the Writings section of the Jewish Bible along with books like Psalms and Proverbs. In the Christian Bible it is part of the Major Prophets.

Isaiah and Jeremiah consistently warn the King and the general population of Judah of the impending judgement that will fall on them if they do not repent and return to the Lord. In our Bibles these books are ordered chronologically and tell the story from a time of propriety through the fall of Judah. Many of the prophetic visions look to the restoration of Israel and indeed all of creation. God had chosen Israel out of all the nations to receive His teaching, the Law. As is clear from the history division of our Bibles it is not easy for a nation to live according to the precepts of the Law. The warnings of these prophets are generally not heeded. Traditionally it is thought the Isaiah was sawed in two at the direction of Hezekiah (Hebrews 11:37). Jeremiah was opposed by a number of false prophets, priests an nobles. Ezekiel and Daniel were taken captive ito Babylon.

Book Dates Comment
From a time of Prosperity to the fall of Israel, the Northern Kingdom. With visions of the fall of Judah and the return from exile.

c. 740 - 716 BC

Isaiah is often called the prophet statesman because he was likely part of the royal family, he ministered from 740 to 681 BC in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. In Isaiah's day, Judah was stuck between two powerful and aggressive nations -- Assyria and Egypt. Thus, the national leaders spent much of their efforts trying to appease and curry favor with both neighbors. Isaiah spent much of his book criticizing those leaders for relying on human help rather than relying on God. Paganization of their religion was also a problem which also served as a distraction for worship of the true God.

It's interesting that in the midst of Judah's political and spiritual decline, Isaiah also wrote prophetically about the future coming of the Messiah -- the One who would save God's people from their sins.

During the time of Judah's decline and fall.
Jeremiah 626-585 BC

Jeremiah served as a prophet for the Southern Kingdom of Judah. He ministered from 626 to 585 BC, which means he was present during the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians in 585 BC. Much of Jeremiah's writings were urgent calls for the nation to repent of their sins to avoid the coming judgment. Sadly, he was largely ignored. Judah continued its decline and was taken captive into Babylon. Jeremiah continues to try to minister to the exiles who go to Egupt against the Lord's warning and those who remain in Judah.

Jeremiah ends with prophecies of judgement for the nations around Israel.

Lamentations c. 586 BC

Lamentations is also called the Lamentations of Jeremiah, it is a series of five poems of lament over the destruction of Jerusalem. In Jewish tradition the Book of Lamentations, the Book of Job, portions of Jeremiah are read on Tesh b'Av, the commemoration of a number of disasters in Jewish history including the destruction of both temples which is said to have occurred on the ninth of Av. The major themes of the book involve expressions of grief and sorrow because of Judah's decline and physical judgment. But the book also contains a strong thread of hope -- specifically, the prophet's trust in God's promises of future goodness and mercy despite present troubles.

During the Babylonian Captivity.
Ezekiel 592-570 BC Ezekiel is a priest in Jerusalem and was taken captive by the Babylonians in 597 B.C. (This was the first wave of Babylonians conquests; they eventually destroyed Jerusalem 11 years later in 586.) Ezekiel ministered as a prophet to the Jews exiled in Babylon. His writings cover three major themes: 1) the coming destruction of Jerusalem, 2) future judgment for the people of Judah because of their continued rebellion against God, and 3) the future restoration of Jerusalem after the Jews' time of captivity cames to an end.
Daniel 606-536 BC Daniel was taken captive in the first wave of captives taken to Babylon. He was a young man that showed promise in his intelligence and learning. He and his friends were educated in the knowledge of the Babylonians to serve the royal court. Daniel became an accomplished administrator. In fact, he was so good he served in the court of four different kings in Babylon. The first portion of Daniel contains the stories of Daniel and his friends. The latter half of the book contains apocalyptic visions. Taken together, they reveal a God who is totally in control of history, including people, nations, and even time itself.