Israel’s prophets said and did what God told them to do.
LORD, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in time of distress, to you the nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, “Our ancestors possessed nothing but false gods, worthless idols that did them no good. Do people make their own gods? Yes, but they are not gods!”
“Therefore I will teach them— this time I will teach them my power and might. Then they will know that my name is the LORD. Jeremiah 16:19-21
Jeremiah (a prophet of God from approximately 627 B.C. to 586 B.C.), often stood alone. He continually leaned on God for strength when he was weakened by rejection Jeremiah 11:18-23. He relied on God as his fortress for protection from enemies Jeremiah 37:14-21. And when life seemed to toss more heartache and turmoil than he could bear, Jeremiah had faith in God as a refuge Jeremiah 20:7-13.
Over the years, the Israelites turned from worshiping God to worshipping idols. They were making sacrifices to manmade objects. Deuteronomy 4:28 says: There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell.
And Godly leadership was not available because most of their kings had also been evil. But it was not just the people and kings who were corrupt; the priests were also dishonorable and unprincipled. Many priests accepted diseased or lame animals as an offering to God. It was their appointed job, the Levites who were the priests, to make sure every sacrifice was perfect and pure before it was offered to God. The priests were turning their backs on what was required of them by God.
So God was not happy with the way Israel, His chosen people, was living. For they continually displayed disregard to the covenant He had made with them. The covenant which states:
but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. Jeremiah 7:23
From the time of Moses when God rescued the Hebrews from slavery (approximately 1446 B.C.) and gave them that covenant, until the end of the Old Testament (around 430 B.C.), God continued to show love for His sinful people. All the while, God’s prophets persevered in speaking His Word. They foretold what was going to happen to Israel if they did not change their evil ways and go back to worshiping Him.
If the nation of Israel was to be healed, its people had to turn to God’s Word and follow His covenant. God wanted His name to be understood as power and might, as described to His people in the Hebrew Bible. He is the only One capable of giving life, watering crops each season, and providing peace from surrounding enemies. He told them how to live, and they needed to reflect His instructions to receive all these blessings. Yet sadly for them, the Israelites did not listen.
Despite all the warnings, the Israelites kept choosing to move further and further away from the covenant and God’s blessings. Because of this, during Jeremiah’s lifetime he saw Jerusalem and the Temple destroyed by king Nebuchadnezzar and he saw Judah led away in captivity. This captivity lasted seventy years.
Israel’s prophets said and did what God told them to do. Although what God told them to say was not what the people wanted to hear, the prophets understood the importance of His words.There is a beautiful song titled Word Of God Speak, created by Christian rock band MercyMe and written by Bart Millard and Pete Kipley. The song makes me realize how the prophets truly relied on God’s words – and not on their own.
The purpose of sharing God’s Word was to save the people from their sin. But the people, the kings, and even the supposedly faithful priests did not like what the prophets had to say. They all kept selfishly doing their own unrighteous thing, relying on pagan gods and worldly rituals. For hundreds of years, God sent prophets to save His people. The last prophet was Malachi; raised in Jerusalem after the return of the the exiles. Once Malachi finished communicating God’s messages for Israel’s future – God became silent. And the silence lasted a very long time.
Then one extraordinary night four hundred years later, the silence was broken. A select few Jews, chosen by God, were blessed with the joy of hearing a baby crying in a manger. And that precious child named Jesus would grow up to tell the people again – we should reflect God’s Word.
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