My Two Take-Aways After a Year in the Prophets
Julie and I spent the bulk of our 2021 Bible reading in the Old Testament books of prophecy. Each night we’d take some time together and read an assigned portion from one of the minor or major prophets, eventually working our way through all of them by the end of the year. It was an invigorating spiritual journey for us both, as a couple and as individuals.
Neither of us would pretend it was always easy to understand. Elements of Ezekiel left us wide-eyed, aspects of Amos puzzled and amazed us, and specific questions in Malachi moved us to memorable moments of deeper faith in God and fear of God. Yet, in every passage we read from the prophets, two truths consistently emerged that have left an indelible mark on me.
- God is indescribably patient. The prophets were God’s messengers to Israel, warning them of coming judgment and calling them to immediate repentance. To be sure, God sent prophet after prophet after prophet, a long line of voices urging them to return to him, their loving Father. In fact, God’s compassionate voice was heard and his loving arms were extended for over 450 years! Even during their 70 years of captivity, which was their punishment for centuries of idolatry, God assured them he would revive them if they’d return to him. Plainly put, there’s no way to read the prophets without seeing the long arm of the Lord and the patient posture of the Father.
- God is sovereignly powerful. Though he spoke through his prophets,God worked through a number of different things to alert his people to their need to return. Pagan nations, unbelieving kings, immoral people, tragic circumstances, natural disasters, and life events were all elements God used to both illuminate and illustrate to his people their waywardness and rebellion. Nothing was outside of his control or command. There’s simply no way to read the prophets without seeing the mighty hand of God orchestrating all things for his purposes.
The good news is this — God hasn’t changed. He is still both of these: indescribably patient and sovereignly powerful. He loves beyond description and moves without permission. He desires all people everywhere to repent so that his glory is maximized in the lives of his creation. And he’s not only communicating that message through his Word and witnesses, he’s ordaining all other things for these reasons as well. All creation points to God’s glory and man’s need to worship him, and it cries out to be heard. Yes, both verbally and visually, God is sending the message to us still that he is patiently waiting (2 Peter 3:9) and powerfully working (Romans 16:25-27).
Today, harden your heart no longer. Stop stiffening your neck. Open your ears to hear the Lord’s plea to return to him. Look around you at all the ways he is still, time and time again, reaching out to you. And run to the Father, the eternal God who is indescribably patient and sovereignly powerful.