In the Old Testament times, the prophets acted as the liaison officers of God to His people, the Israelites. This is evident during the times of Isaiah and Jeremiah, perhaps the most passionate prophets who made detailed and lengthy accounts of God’s messages to the Israelites. During their time, the people have often been guilty of idolatry and rebellion. Isaiah for instance, charged Israel as “a sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption who have forsaken the Lord, who have spurned the Holy One of Israel and who have turned their backs on Him” (Is. 1:4). Jeremiah on the other hand, accuses the nation of Israel with the same sins, reminding Israel about how God delivered them from Egypt to the promised land and questioning them how they could have easily forgotten what He has done for a nation so great. Jeremiah 2:8 speaks of God’s grievances saying, “The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who deal with the law did not know me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols”. Basically the Israelites have always been guilty of one thing and that is, forsaking the Lord. This may have been described by the prophets differently during different times but the issue often directs to Israel following other gods.
We can do it today.
As actions are often followed by reactions, the sins of Israel also had its consequences. Initially, God used the prophets to remind them of His covenant with Israel just like His approach in the book of Jeremiah where He gave a brief account about the exodus of Israel from Egypt, through barren wilderness, drought and darkness (Jer. 2:6) and thus claims His part in all the difficulties that they have been through. From this point, God often challenges the people to repent of their sins and forewarns them of the consequences of their actions. The punishment usually given to the Israelites for their sins is the breaking of God’s hedge over them which often result to famines and wars. This is evident from the times of the patriarchs to the prophets of old. For instance, Isaiah warns, “See now, the Lord, the Lord Almighty, is about to take from Jerusalem and Judah both supply and support, all supplies of food and all supplies of water” (Is. 3:1). Obviously, only an Omnipotent God can give that kind of threat for who can control nature? This is how God often deals with His people. That when they forsake Him, He also forsakes them. However, this reaction is not a show of immaturity but a lesson for the Israelites to learn that no one can protect them but God, who has kept them throughout the ages.
This could be confirmed by how God also shows mercy to His people. For he does not simply give them warnings but He also beseeches them to return to Him despite Israel’s backsliding. In Jer. 3:11 to the end of the chapter, God entreats Israel to return to him, instructing the people about how they are supposed to repent of their sins and turn back from their wicked ways so that God will forgive them and heal wash them of their shame. Such appeals are coupled with promises of good things to be upon them. In Jer. 4:1-2 for instance, God says, “If you put your detestable idols out of my sight and no longer go astray, and if in a truthful, just and righteous way your swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives’, then the nations will be blessed by him and in him they will glory”. These verses echo other words of God in other books where God begs his people to be faithful to him.
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With the long history of Israel’s unfaithfulness and proneness to resort to idolatry, God offered a more permanent solution, the birth of Jesus which was foretold by Isaiah in chapter 9. It is said that this foretelling of a Messiah “did not arise from a vacuum but from within a specific historical context (Archeological Study Bible, 2005). At the time of the prophesy, King Ahaz, being enthroned after a series of murders and wars, placed his trust and hopes in the Assyrians who he deemed were powerful and able to help him. however, Isaiah, a passionate servant of God, didn’t approve of his attitude so he warned him of these. Unfortunately, the king did not heed the prophet as most of the kings before and after him did so that only shows the stubbornness of the Israelites. Ultimately, “The floods mentioned by Isaiah surely did come, engulfing the Kingdom of Israel and nearly swamping the Kingdom of Judah, as God’s judgement” (Vos, 1999). This shows that God does not threat but warns people so that they will repent and be spared of the consequences of their sins. Otherwise, they will suffer as did the Israelites.
Seeing that his cyclical unfaithfulness of Israel is an epidemic, God promised a King who is to become the redeemer not only of the Israelites but also of the Gentiles.
Today, a lot of people are enjoying the freedom of worshiping the One True God however, there are many other who are looking to other gods. Recently, there have risen a number of new thoughts such as scientology and the likes, religions that have been unknown in the early centuries. People are searching for answers to their eternal search of the truth. Unfortunately, in such seeking, they also are rejecting the teachings of God, the Biblical principles which God has always been insisting on the Israelites. While there are no prophets anymore who go out to the people, condemning them for their sins and asking them to repent of their sins just like Jeremiah and Isaiah did during their time, the Bible instructs that one only needs to realize his/her sins and repent from them through the promised Messiah of Isaiah who is Jesus.