I was raised in a Christian tradition that undervalued the Old Testament. The most undervalued part of the Old Testament was the prophets. In our church, all the prophets were minor!
I was told once “I don’t know why anyone would even read the prophets.” I am reading a Bible that used to belong to one of my teachers. It has his notes and highlights in it. The Old Testament is light on highlighting! The prophets are empty. I don’t know if he ever read them.
I don’t think my upbringing is uncommon in this regard. Many people have no idea what the prophets are doing in our Bible. “It’s just a bunch of judgments on places that don’t even exist anymore.”
However, once I began reading the Bible regularly, the prophets fulfilled an important role. Israel was going down, they had turned their back on God while going through the empty motions of religion. The prophets were warning that judgment was coming if they didn’t shape up.
The prophets were at best met with silence, and at worst met with imprisonment or death (with the awesome exception of mopey Jonah!). They saw clearly the rebellion of Israel and God’s displeasure. The people consoled themselves with the message of false prophets who said “Peace, Peace” when there was no peace.
Our neglect of the prophets has now resulted in Christianity being in the exact same spot. Sure our churches look nice and we do many God-looking things, but our heart is not in it. This is proved easily just by looking at the inconsistency of people’s attendance at church. People are busy. Spiritual obligations are typically the first to go. People don’t skip work for church, but they have no problem skipping church for work.
Our heart isn’t in it. We’re missing it. Judgment is coming.
This message goes over about as well as the OT prophet’s message! No one likes to listen to prophets. Prophets were called to talk to people who would not listen. They are professional talkers to walls.
We look around in our churches today and see our wealth and happiness, our impressive shows and programs, surely God is blessing us.
If you read the prophets you’ll know this is EXACTLY what Israel said!
The Apostle Paul tells us that whatever was written before was written for our learning. The prophets are not some dead guys warning other dead guys. Their essential message persists into our day.
No one wants to hear warnings and heavy-handed repentance messages. People want the happy and the peace. We’ll continue ignoring the prophets and patting ourselves on our backs for our happy little worship we decide to do, not knowing we’re following exactly the downfall of Israel.
God is paying attention. He’s still the all-knowing, righteous Judge. He’s not sleeping. He’s watching us treasure up wrath against ourselves for the Day of Wrath. The Judgment is coming. I know it’s not happy enough for us, but it’s still coming. I suggest we wake up and get ready.