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"The Prophet Jeremiah," Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo

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This term we get to look into the ministry of a diverse group of people serving in a period of history marked by chaos. The 9th through the 5th centuries were anything but tidy and simple. And to that complex chaos, the God of grace sends His servants the prophets. He sends them to confront their own culture, to raise an awareness of God’s righteous expectations, to persuade those who claim a relationship with God to live like it, to tell a watching world about God’s glory and grace, and to remind all humanity that God, always faithful to His promise, would send His Anointed Servant to be our Saviour.

Knowing God and making Him known in a complex world
Someone has observed that in order to love intimately one must know accurately, else one is loving an image of their own making. Knowing accurately is a function of sound biblical studies.

The classical or “writing” prophets served from the 9 th century B.C. through the 5th century, a convulsive time in the ancient world. For the community of the PROPHETIC BOOKS, this period is a tragic one. The “People of God” declined from the “golden age” of David and Solomon to ruin. By c.930 B.C. Israel had already been torn in two by civil war.

The northern Kingdom of Israel was characterized by unrelenting spiritual rebellion and, at times, significant political instability. The southern Kingdom of Judah, led by David’s dynasty (except for a six-year break), found itself on a spiritual “rollercoaster.” Yet both kingdoms experienced periods of affluence and ease which seemed to anaesthetize any latent spiritual sensitivity toward the LORD.

On the international scene the Neo-Assyrian Empire emerged in the last half of the 8th century as a “world power.” By 627 the empire encompassed lower Egypt, eastern Turkey, southern Armenia and Azerbaijan, western Iran and everything in between in the Fertile Crescent. Toward the end of the 7th century the Babylonian-Median alliance sacked Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, and by 605 the Neo-Babylonian Empire had become the new “superpower.” Sixty-six years later she was replaced by the Medo-Persian Empire which extended its world power West to Libya, Northwest into Bulgaria and Greece, East to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tadzhikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.

And in the midst of all this, Yahweh demonstrated faithfulness to His Promise and Covenant as He sent His servants the prophets again and again to call His people back to a vital personal relationship from merely a formal one. He commissioned His prophets with words of grace and accountability to the nations as well. He commissioned the prophets so that both Israel and the nations would “know that I am Yahweh.” And to all, the prophets proclaim the coming Promised One Who alone would effect the blessing promised to Abraham on behalf of all peoples.

My prayer is that as we study the prophets– their lives, their messages– our hearts will be challenged in a fresh way to love Him with all our heart, all our soul, all our ability, and to love our neighbors, both near and distant.



Disclaimer: The inclusion of a link on this site does not necessarily indicate an endorsement of the contents of that site by this professor or institution. As always, critical judgment is expected. Sites are included which are deemed to be appropriate to graduate education.

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