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Three Issues of the Prophets Essay

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Updated: Apr 25th, 2019

Introduction

The Old Testament has five major sections namely law, history, wisdom, Major Prophets, and Minor Prophets. The work of prophets in the Old Testament was to guide people towards accepting God and believing in his ability to fulfill their needs.

They also prophesied about the second coming of the messiah and provided insight on issues that Jews faced as they desperately tried to know God (Hindson & Yates, 2012). Three issues addressed by the prophets in their teachings included idolatry, social injustice, and religious ritualism.

They predicted how people would slowly drift away from God’s commandments, create their own religions, and start oppressing the weak. The prophets taught the Jews a lot about God, religious rituals, and the expected way of life.

In addition, they taught them how to transfer their knowledge to subsequent generations for continuity (Bullock, 2007). Their teachings were practical, and Christians draw a lot of wisdom from them in contemporary society.

Prophets on idolatry

Old Testament prophets were inspired by the spirit of God to foresee and tell his people about things that would turn them away from him. The bible explains idolatry as the practice of worshiping images that are not God. God uses his prophets to explain this practice to his people (Hindson & Yates, 2012).

One of the people who deliver this message is prophet Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 2:1-3, God compares Israel with a young bride who is very faithful and committed to him. However, for those who dislike and harm the bride for her devotion get punished by God for their mistakes through a disaster inflicted on them (Bullock, 2007).

In Jeremiah 2: 23-25, the prophet talks to people in a powerful and confronting manner asking them to wake up and follow God like they do to their idols.

Another prophet who talks about idolatry is Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 8: 17-18, God asks him whether he has seen the idolatry temple that signifies how much people have replaced his presence in their lives with idols (Loken, 2010).

In the same verse, God also speaks of his huge dislike for this practice that provokes his anger. God swears not to pity people who turn away from him, and continue to disregard his purpose in their lives. God always used prophet Ezekiel to preach and prophesy against worshipping idols (Hindson & Yates, 2012).

Prophets on social injustice

During the days of Old Testament prophets, there was a serious problem of social injustices among the people. According to the Bible, Israelites had turned away from their governing laws, thus resulting to widespread injustices and failure (Bullock, 2007).

This issue is widely addressed in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy among others. Social injustices voiced by the Old Testament prophets are also present in modern society. A good example is Pharaoh who captured Joseph and held him captive for a prolonged period.

In Amos 5: 11, God threatens people against exploiting the weak for selfish gains. He says that those who exploit others to generate wealth, build big mansions, and develop huge plantations will not enjoy any benefits from their bad practices (Hindson & Yates, 2012).

Prophet Amos was very active in preaching to the Israelites about God’s judgment that would befall them for all the injustices they committed. God had mandated the people of Israel to watch over the poor and weak members of the society. However, they created a gap between the rich and the poor (Loken, 2010).

This was totally against God’s commandments. In Amos 5: 14-15, God asks his people to do good to others in order to attain eternal life. God uses prophet Amos to ask his people to promote justice in courts for so that they can receive his mercy when they die (Loken, 2010).

Prophets on religious ritualism

Prophet Micah talks about religious ritualism in the Old Testament by providing a different insight into what God expected from the Israelites (Hindson & Yates, 2012). Prophet Micah reveals that God was not interested in sacrifices and offerings.

Instead, he was interested in people showing obedience, humility, and positive reflection towards the commandments. In Micah 6:6-8, God tells his people that he does not want them to make offerings just as an obligation but expects them to be honest to each other (Bullock, 2007).

In Amos 5:21, God says that he does not approve religious festivals observed by Christians because they no longer bring people together. The prophets preached against using religious rituals to seek earthly satisfactions.

Conclusion

The teachings by Old Testament prophets about idolatry, social injustice, and religious ritualism are applicable to the modern way of living in many ways. From the teachings on idolatry, it is clear that God does not want his people to deviate from the commandments.

Human beings should not shift their focus from God by turning to material things. The teachings on social injustice indicate that all people have an ethical responsibility of loving and caring about others.

Finally, the teachings on religious ritualism show that the biggest expectation that God has about his people is obedience and the search for eternal happiness over material possessions.

References

Bullock, C. (2007). An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic Books. California: Moody Publishers.

Hindson, E., & Yates, G. (2012). The Essence of the Old Testament: A Survey. New York: B&H Publishing Group.

Loken, I. (2010). The Old Testament Prophetic Books: An Introduction. London: Oxford University Press.

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