Before, during and after the exile, God sent prophets. God spoke through these prophets to call Israel back to their special relationship with God. The prophets reminded Israel that God had made a pledge with them. They explained that God’s people had treated their God badly, and warned the people that they were heading for exile. But the prophets also comforted the people, telling them that God would not forget his pledge to Abraham and his descendants. The prophets pointed forward to the ultimate fulfilment of this pledge.
The New Covenant
31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
God’s messengers, the prophets, show us:
God cares for his people, not wanting them to forget what he has done for them and how they ought to live in response. God hates sin and will not turn a blind eye to it—through the prophets he condemns it time and again. Yet God remains faithful to his pledges, despite the faithlessness of his people.
This is what the Lord says: “Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,” declares the Lord. (ESV)
God sends many messengers to remind, warn and comfort his people.
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. (ESV)
God is very patient, but calls the guilty to account. He is not silent; he graciously revealed his will through the prophets, so that Israel could know what was required of them, and why God was angry with their behaviour.
The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
The Wickedness of Judah
2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth;
for the Lord has spoken:
“Children have I reared and brought up,
but they have rebelled against me.
3 The ox knows its owner,
and the donkey its master’s crib,
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.”
4 Ah, sinful nation,
a people laden with iniquity,
offspring of evildoers,
children who deal corruptly!
They have forsaken the Lord,
they have despised the Holy One of Israel,
they are utterly estranged.
5 Why will you still be struck down?
Why will you continue to rebel?
The whole head is sick,
and the whole heart faint.
6 From the sole of the foot even to the head,
there is no soundness in it,
but bruises and sores
and raw wounds;
they are not pressed out or bound up
or softened with oil.
7 Your country lies desolate;
your cities are burned with fire;
in your very presence
foreigners devour your land;
it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.
8 And the daughter of Zion is left
like a booth in a vineyard,
like a lodge in a cucumber field,
like a besieged city.
9 If the Lord of hosts
had not left us a few survivors,
we should have been like Sodom,
and become like Gomorrah.
10 Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom!
Give ear to the teaching of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
11 “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?”
says the Lord;
“I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of well-fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
or of lambs, or of goats.”
The ultimate prophet was Jesus, for he was the living word of God to the world. He was God’s warning of judgement and God’s means of comfort. He called Israel to return to God and invited all to enter into God’s kingdom.
The prophets both warned and comforted Israel. What warnings do you hear personally in these passages? What comforts?
Thank God for how he has spoken and revealed himself throughout history. Pray that you will listen to his Son.