The prophets spew out a lot of judgment, and God does punish the ‘rebellious house.’ Both the northern kingdom and southern kingdoms are now in exile in our readings. But the prophets make it clear that God does not delight in the suffering of His people. It pains Him. It grieves Him. He longs to draw His people to Himself.
In the thick of all the doom and condemnation, almost every prophetic book contains at least one passage of hope and promise. God always preserves a remnant, and always declares that restoration is coming.
Many of our favorite verses are found wedged in between declarations of judgment. When you come across them, after chapters and chapters of doom and terror, they become so precious.
- Isaiah records so many fore-tellings of the Messiah and is the prophet most quoted by Jesus. “By his words we are healed,” he prophesies.
- Jeremiah, as desperately as he laments the fall of Jerusalem, also proclaims, “Because of the Lord’s great love you are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness“1 and “I will restore their fortunes, declares the Lord“2.
- Ezekiel, despite all his scathing judgments, says, “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them… they will be my people and I will be their God“3.
- Hosea, the love story. How could God tell Hosea to marry a prostitute? And then how could he tell him to receive her back after she had returned to adultery? Really!? But, it is picture of us. “While we were yet sinners,” Christ died for us. And even when we fall, He restores us to Himself with persistent, extravagant love. “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces, but He will heal us. He has injured us, but he will bind up our wounds“4.
- Amos records God’s promise, “In that day I will restore David’s fallen tent… New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills… I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted“5.
- Obadiah ends with the hope that “Deliverers will go up on Mt Zion… and the kingdom will be the Lord’s“6.
The door back to God and the fullness of His mercy is always open. “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths“7.
1 Lamentations 3:22-23; 2Jeremiah 32:44; 3Ezekiel 11:19-20; 4Hosea 6:11; 5Amos 9:11, 13, 15; 6Obadiah 21; 7Micah 4:2