We have been discussing two questions concerning the prophetical books in the Old Testament:
- Why are we so unfamiliar with them?
- Why are they important for us to study and learn?
In answer to the first question, I offered the following four reasons:
1) Placement: at the end of the Old Testament
2) Language: poetry rather than prose
3) History: requires an understanding of historical events
4) Theology: many messages of judgment and doom
Now we move on to the second question. Why are the prophets important for us to study and learn? Here are four reasons to consider:
1) We need the prophets to help balance out our unbiblical views of God.
We ended yesterday by talking about the messages of judgment that the prophets brought. And yet we saw that they also spoke words of comfort and hope. People often say things like, “The Bible says God is love. He doesn’t judge people.” But the same Bible that tells us that God is love also tells us that God judges and punishes sin. God is both loving and just. The prophets help us to develop a fully biblical picture of God.
2) The prophets deal with the weighty issues of life.
The prophets deal with the weighty issues of life – things like God’s character, God’s uniqueness, God’s sovereignty over the nations, God’s requirements for his people, the importance of justice and righteousness. Without the prophets our faith can grow shallow and weak, unable to stand up to the rigors and challenges of life.
3) The prophets point us to Jesus as the Messiah.
The whole Old Testament points forward to the coming of Christ, but as the time drew nearer, the prophetical books became more and more specific about the coming of the Messiah who would bring salvation for all the nations. Some of the most startling and clear prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament are found in the prophets.
4) The prophets help us understand God’s plan for the ages.
Without the prophets we could never make sense of what happened to Israel as God’s people. We would not understand God’s plan for his church in the present age. The prophets are critical for understanding God’s plan for the ages, including our own future.
Next week I will begin blogging through the Old Testament book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk is one of the Minor Prophets. It is a short book with a powerful message for today. I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to practice “reading the prophets” with me.