We are now making our way into the “Prophets Before the Exile” section of The Whole Story. I really like the way our Read Scripture plan breaks a bit here from the order of the books of the Old Testament in our common English translation of the bible. For the Read Scripture plan is more in line with how the story actually unfolded.
You see, the books of the Kings give us this four hundred year story of forty kings ruling over the divided kingdom of Israel to the north and Judah to the south, a multitude of prophets, and the runaway covenant disobedience of God’s people. With that now established in our minds, we will focus in on that one set of characters — the prophets — and hear the details of what God had to say through them in that same four hundred year period before the exile (2 Kings 25).
Eugene Peterson has this to say about the prophets:
The unrelenting reality is that prophets don’t fit into our way of life. For a people who are accustomed to fitting God into our lives or, as we like to say, “making room for God,” the prophets are hard to take and easy to dismiss. The God of whom the prophets speak is far too large to fit into our lives. If we want anything to do with God, we have to fit into God.
The prophets are not reasonable, accommodating themselves to what makes sense to us. They are not diplomatic, tactfully negotiating an agreement that allows us a say in the outcome. What they do is haul us unceremoniously into a reality far too large to be accounted for by our explanations and expectations. They plunge us into mystery, immense and staggering.
Their words and visions penetrate the illusions with which we cocoon ourselves from reality. We humans have an enormous capacity for denial and self-deceit. We incapacitate ourselves from dealing with the consequences of sin, from facing judgment, from embracing truth. Then the prophets step in and help us first to recognize, and then to enter, the new life God has for us, the life that opens up hope in God.
As he says there at the end, we will see much over the next ten books of God speaking through the prophets against our sin, describing its consequences, leading us to truth, and making it possible for us to enter “the life that opens up hope in God.”
And it all begins with the magisterial work of Isaiah. If you’d like a primer on what many scholars have called “the most complex book in the Bible” and “the fifth Gospel,” I highly recommend heading over the The Bible Project’s page on Isaiah. There you will find a whole page of videos, milestones, study resources, and recommendations for further reading and study on this stunning and wide-ranging prophetic word.
To prepare for this coming Sunday, be sure to read through the book of Hosea, prayerfully meditating on its fourteen chapters.
It is my prayer that you will continue to grow in your understanding of, love for, and hope in God as we continue to make our way through The Whole Story. And, as always, please feel free to email me with questions about or ideas for The Whole Story.
Hoping in GOD,
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