What I learned about God from the prophets
“hang on... God said what?”
Prepare yourself for a lame analogy.
If the books of the Bible were genres of music the Old Testament prophetic books would probably be the Alternative section: you know they're probably good (because they’re in the Bible), sometimes occasional verses go ‘mainstream’ (Jeremiah 29:11 anyone?) but often large chunks can just make you respond, “hang on... God said what?”
So often many of the unpronounceable Old Testament prophets remain, somewhat neglected, in the middle of our Bibles, stuck between the Old Testament stories we know well and the coming of Jesus.
I think this is a shame because so much of what I learned about God I learnt through reading the Old Testament prophets.
The prophets can teach so much about what God is like, what He is passionate about and how consistent He is.
The prophets can teach so much about what God is like, what He is passionate about and how consistent He is when He deals with His people.
Here are the top 3 things I learned about God through the prophets, with some examples from Jeremiah!
God is committed to Justice and Acting for Justice
“Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice, making his own people work for nothing”
A lot of what happens in the world today makes me incredibly angry. Horrendous corruption happens in governments and among groups of people. Human slavery is still very much a reality. People are unable to receive the aid that they need. A lot of things are unjust.
God uses the prophets to demonstrate His frustration with those who abuse power, who prey on the weak and who abandon those who need help. And He promises to do something about it. The knowledge that God is a God of Justice who will act reminds us that the injustice that we see around us is the not the end of the story.
God requires Total Faithfulness
““But like a woman unfaithful to her husband. so you, Israel, have been unfaithful to me,” declares the Lord.”
God is gravely dissatisfied with the unfaithfulness of his people. We can see in the book of Jeremiah that He called them out on a lot including: having idols to other gods, mistreating the poor and generally breaking the covenant He had with them. Often the relationship between God and His people is described as an adulterous one: Israel as the bride who is consistently unfaithful, turning away to other gods and distractions. God promises, in pretty graphic language, that He will act against those who fail to remain faithful to Him.
we find ourselves so easily distracted from a life following God in everything
Often, just like the Israelites we find ourselves so easily distracted from a life following God in everything. Drifting away from God, even if we have seen Him work in our lives is something that we, as much as they, are often guilty of.
We are reminded in the prophets that our lives are far better when God is acknowledged and worshipped in His proper place (Glorified). Throughout Jeremiah we see a God who is committed to reminding Israel (and us today!) to turn back to Him.
God is a Merciful Rescuer
“The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Saviour.”
We see in Jeremiah that this consistent, Holy God who is committed to bringing about righteousness, still offers a hope to His unfaithful, lost and sinful people. Through no merit of their own but through His own enormous mercy, He promises to bring about redemption. This promise is fulfilled in the Gospels through the coming of Jesus, His death and resurrection offering unearned redemption and rescue for all who choose to accept Him. (A fun game to play when reading the prophets is ‘Spot the prophecies about Jesus’ - there are a ton!)
The prophets are jam packed with God’s invitation to turn away from sinful messy lives and return to Him - Our merciful and righteous God.
Throughout the Old Testament prophets we witness God’s interaction with groups of people who, like us, make huge mistakes. Who, like us, constantly fail, wander and break promises. The prophets are jam packed with God’s invitation to turn away from sinful messy lives and return to Him - Our merciful and righteous God.
Venture into the middle of the Bible and see for yourself!