The Old Testament prophets were raised up by God to warn Israel of the promises of God regarding his judgment, when they turned away from him, and his forgiveness, when they returned to him. There message was continually fresh thus always contemporary. The prophets were placed at crisis points in Israel's history so they could address religious and social problems that plagued the people of the covenant. The theme(s) of the prophets seems to have included the following:
1. God rules in history.
2. God calls men and women to repentance.
3. All of society must be rooted in God's commandments.
4. Both judgment and hope are always the order of the day because God saves his people and judges his enemies.
5. The messianic kingdom describes a bright future state for all of those who trust God. It will come in God's time and way.
It was the seal of God's promises that he gave the prophets to Israel so that they could see what was far off and embrace it in true faith. The radiant glory that was to come would arrive in the person of the messiah. Finally, the apostles and prophets of the New Covenant clearly believed that the prophetic promises of the Old Testament were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. This is the whole point of scores of passages in the Gospels and epistles.
Jesus says that without the words of the prophets we cannot understand him (cf. Luke 24: 27, 32). In the light of this incredible claim I think we have the clearest reason of all for studying, and meditating in, the words of the prophets. We also have the clearest hermeneutic for how to apply these words to us and our time.
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Mostly I would agree… Mostly.
I am amazingly fed by reading the prophets in the OT. ALL OF THEM. They speak to me and our day. As they spoke to Jesus day.
The part I might part company is this: Finally, the apostles and prophets of the New Covenant clearly believed that the prophetic promises of the Old Testament were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. This is the whole point of scores of passages in the Gospels and epistles.
Certainly ALL the prophetic passages were complete in HIM…. But to say that there are not YET things written in OT prophetic books that apply to some time in the future means you have to tear a lot of pages out of the book.
Prophetic is for now, for the future and for eventually. It is truth that transcends simple events and time.
I won’t start with Bible bullets, but Zephaniah, Zechariah, Joel and Daniel come to mind as four books who have yet to fulfill as JESUS manifests more and once more bodily.
Ezekiel is loaded with layered prophecy. Micah is. I could go on, but you see the point. We are not prophetically dealing with a historical fulfillment of prophetic utterance but the here and now prophetic of Life in the World with Jesus.
One of the things about the old covenant prophets that stands out to me is that the overwhelming number of messages they proclaimed were to the covenant people, NOT to the nations. To be sure, all the truth they prophesied is profitable for all men because it is God’s truth, but the warnings and promises you spoke of were given primarily to Israel and Judah. (An example of an exception would be Jonah who was sent to the Gentiles to call them to repentance.)
So what? So, much of evangelicalism makes the mistake of focusing their prophetic proclamations on the world rather than on the church. Yes, the world needs to repent and turn to Christ in faith. But, I think the role of the New Covenant prophet is to speak the warnings and promises of God’s covenant to the CHURCH! We happily continue in our sinful divisiveness and self-centered comfort and our prophets receive the same treatment from the church as the Old Covenant prophets received from theirs!
Actually Dave, you are right on. BUT, I can read something like Ezekiel 37 and find great wisdom and comfort in identifying with God’s chosen, because you see, I am ONE.
Before the foundation of the earth. A Chosen one.
Ezekiel 36:24 ” ‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God. 29 I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. 30 I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices. 32 I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign LORD. Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, O house of Israel!
33 ” ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. 34 The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. 35 They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.” 36 Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the LORD have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.’
That is applicable to every single chosen one in our day and needs to be reviewed, apprehend and then believed for themselves. I find this to be very strong and reassuring.