The more I read them, the more I’m a fan of Old Testament prophets. These guys had guts (and more). They spoke the truth when it wasn’t popular, and spoke it in such a way that people listened. They led people back to God’s path in ways that are, to our way of thinking, nothing short of miraculous.
I mean, think of Nathan. He had the rather daunting responsibility to call up King David on his sin. Would you like to go to the reigning monarch and call her out on some egregious behaviour? But the king knew Nathan spoke for God, and he repented of his ways.
Or think of Hosea. When God called him to be a prophet, he appointed Hosea to marry a prostitute. How would you like to get a reputation by marrying someone with a reputation?! But Hosea knew God had a purpose in it, and he endured the scorn of people in order to get God’s point across.
My favourite part about reading Old Testament prophets, though, comes when they give us little glimpses of the future. This week, I was reading Joel, as I have been for the past few weeks. Reading Joel is tough sledding, when you consider that pretty much the first half of the book is bad news all around: locusts, destructive weather and invading armies don’t make for happiness, but that was what Joel was called to proclaim. Then, in the middle of chapter 2, a corner is turned, and God’s covenant faithfulness shines through (more on that on Sunday; you can always listen to the message on my blog). And when we get toward the end of the chapter, we see that little glimpse of the future in Joel’s prophecy:
28 “And afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
29 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
30 I will show wonders in the heavens
and on the earth,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
31 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.
32 And everyone who calls
on the name of the LORD will be saved;
for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
there will be deliverance,
as the LORD has said,
even among the survivors
whom the LORD calls.
Do you see the glimpse? Many Christians believe it is, at least in part, fulfilled in Acts 2. While others focus on the sizzle, I like the steak in this prophecy: the covenant is opened wide. God makes a love-agreement not just with the Jews, but with Gentiles, too – anyone who will call on the Lord can enter into covenant relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.
See, even in the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scripture, there is New Testament hope. That’s why I like reading the prophets. I hope you will, too!