Reading the Prophets: Ruin to Restoration and a Christ-like God

“Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourself clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong; learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the op-pressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord! Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” Isaiah 1:16-18
In some seasons of life I had a hard time reading the Old Testament Prophets. Oh yes I’ve treasured a collection of descriptive sayings and hopeful passages that portray God’s character of steadfast love and mercy and visions of the peaceable Kingdom. But the many pages of com-plaints against the nations and threats of violent and deadly destructions at times have blurred before my eyes. Does this ever happen to you? You’re busy, tired, distracted –and you can’t deal with the parts of God’s Word that seem distant or difficult?

Reading through the prophets now for our 8 weeks of sermons and study discussions, I find the pages are alive and important for our world today. Do we live in a new era like that of the prophets? Actually, I’m sure every era has practiced idolatry, oppression of the poor for economic gain, religious pride and unjust judgment of others.

God’s words are not just visions of the distant past or distant future, as many believe. They are grounded in history, filled with real names and real places. And they describe universal behavior of leaders and nations that we can recognize regardless of political party. No one is exempt. God speaks against evil, urges people to seek good, and promises restoration to even the worst offend-ers. That sounds like Jesus! Yes, the Bible says that “Christ is the image of the invisible God, the exact representation of his being.” (Hebrews 1:2)
We need to understand God in the OT in light of Christ, who was non-violent, reconciling, merciful and loving.
At our first meeting in the Fall series, our Sunday Night discussion group (6:30 at church) held a lively discussion of the passages, which to our group pointed to similar sounding injustices in Kenya, the U.S. and more. The Word of God is alive and challenging.

Feel free to join one of the groups!
Pastor Nancy Ebner

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