By Chris Denning
I hope you guys are diggin’ this series as much as I have been. Having a better understanding of the Old Testament and why it matters in my life today is an essential part of having a growing relationship with Christ.
The last section we’re hitting in the Old Testament is the Prophets. Included are some guys you’ve probably heard of, like Isaiah or Jeremiah, as well as some guys you might not have heard of, like Zephaniah and Haggai. The Prophets represent such an important part of the history of the Jewish people, and remind me how easily I could become hard-hearted and disobedient like the people they tried to reach.
We’re so convinced about the importance of the Prophets that we’re actually doing a series this summer all about them to dive a little deeper there. For me, I find two reasons that the Prophets are so important to study:
1. The Prophets spoke unpopular things honestly and boldly.
Whenever the Prophets spoke to God’s people, it was rarely a cause for celebration or a pep rally. It would have been cool if the Prophet’s job was to pat the Israelites on the back and say, “great job following God!” No, it was pretty much the opposite of that.
Time and time again, even after seeing God move in incredible and miraculous ways, Israel would continually turn its back on God. They would find a substitute that better fit their low standards or allowed them to live the way they wanted to. It wasn’t unusual for a golden idol or supposed deity to be worshiped among groups across Israel and beyond.
The Prophets were tasked by God to give them gut checks of faith, to remind them of the one and true God. Its kinda like having your trainer standing right beside you as you pound a dozen Krispy Kremes. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!?” they would probably scream. “You know a way that is SO MUCH BETTER than THIS!”
People don’t like to be told that they’re doing something dumb or wrong, we like to think we’re always right. However, the Prophets carried the call from God to speak honestly, directly and boldly about the issues that God had placed on their hearts. For them, it is a burden they had to live with rather than a choice they had to make.
When reading the Prophets, we should try and see ourselves in these people, what are the Prophets trying to speak to me, even today?
2. The Prophets were obedient in their call from God.
The Prophets weren’t perfect; they were just normal people who were tasked by God to be His mouthpiece to His people. Essentially, they were being obedient to God in how He had called them.
Some of them suffered physically and relationally, often being ridiculed or excommunicated for their willingness to obey God. Speaking truth doesn’t always make you popular, especially so when you’re correcting a nation’s spiritual infidelity.
However, you can see in the story of every Prophet, both major and minor, a clear and resolute obedience. Some doubted or wavered at times, but, ultimately, obedience overcame their insufficiency. Again, these men were not angels or some kind of perfect super-human, but rather normal people tasked by God to speak on His behalf.
Obedience is a discipline that is cultivated. While some are more naturally gifted at self-control and the ability to obey, we all have to work at it to some degree. Seeing how obedient these Prophets were to their call gives me the encouragement to lean into my ability to obey. I want to follow God so willingly like they did, and our response should be to follow their example.