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God always sent His prophets to the people in the Old Testament for a variety of purposes. To warn people against their sins was one of the motives. God sent the prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah to Israel and Judah to warn them that He was not pleased with their disobedience. His rage at their rebellion was growing. "To summon the nations back to God and to proclaim God's salvation via the Messiah," according to Isaiah (Lessing, 2013, p. 49). Following the separation of the kingdom between Israel and Judah, Isaiah spoke words of condemnation. Jeremiah's words were also words of experience and he was “to urge God’s people to turn from their sins and back to God” (Tunyogi, 1962, pp. 387-388). In an analysis of the works of these two prophets' message, evaluation of the sins of these nations is done, what God did for those sins, and the plans he had for these nations and what is the relevance of these to Christians today.
God had a message for the people of Israel and Judah. He was reminding them of his laws of the covenant which they were to live by (Greenberg, 2008, p. 199). The people of Israel and Judah become rebellious and disobedient to God. They did not hearken to the warning by the prophets, neither did they do as the covenant laws commanded them to do. Instead, they allowed corruption, oppression of the poor, idolatry and turned to others for assistance instead of God (Tunyogi, 1962, p. 387). Israel and Judah were people of God's covenant. The two nations had the laws of God with them and written down. Therefore, unlike other nations, God expected them to live by the law of the covenant. The people of Judah and Israel despised the covenant laws and treated them as if they did not matter. Instead, they practiced all kinds of vices that were against the law (Chinitz, 2007, p. 252). They sinned against God by practicing corruption and afflicting the poor in society (Greenberg, 2008, p. 197). The sin termed as greatest is the worship of idols (Terblanche, 2016, p. 153). The people stopped worshipping God their God and turned into the worship of images and idols (Tunyogi, 1962, p. 387). Such a sin made God furious with them (Greenberg, 2008, p. 197). God, therefore, judged the people of Judah and Israel and took action against their sins (Terblanche, 2016, p. 154).
God sent his prophets to tell the people of Judah and Israel their sins, and warn them to turn away from the sins (Chinitz, 2007, pp. 249-254). In spite of the warnings and the prophecies of the two, the people did not receive or heed to the messages, thus committing another sin of rebellion (Tunyogi, 1962, p. 390).
The wrath of God broke out. He left Israel and Judah to hands of their enemies who attacked them. In the attacks, Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed, many people were killed by their enemies (Chinitz, 2007, p. 249) . The people who left alive were taken into captivity in Babylon for many years (Lessing, 2013, p. 47). All these were consequences of neglect to the Word and works of God. Rebellion and failure to heed to the messages of God’s prophets from generation to generation led to these actions by God against the sins of Israel and Judah (Terblanche, 2016, p. 158).
God had plans for Israel and Judah. In spite of their sins, disobedience, and rebellion towards him, they were still his chosen people and nations. God said through prophet Jeremiah that he would restore the fortunes of the population of Israel and Judah (Chinitz, 2007, pp. 250-251). After the consequences of their sins against God, he allowed some of them to be taken into captivity in Babylon. God promised he would return them back to their land. Jeremiah 30:3 says, ‘For behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel and Judah.' The LORD says, ‘I will also bring them back to the land that I gave to their forefathers, and they shall possess it.'" God also told Jeremiah that as for the nations where he had scattered the people of Israel and Judah, he was going to wreck them. He promised that as for them, he would not destroy them completely but he will chasten justly for he would not leave them unpunished (Vlach, 2016, p. 170). Jeremiah 30:11, ‘For I am with you,' declares the LORD, ‘to save you; for I will destroy completely all the nations where I have scattered you, only I will not wreck you. But I will chasten you justly and will by no means leave you unpunished. (Vlach, 2016, p. 171)’ All that God wanted for Israel and Judah was prosperity as in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plan I have for you.” Declares the LORD, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and hope.” (Vlach, 2016, p. 172)
God had intends to help the people of Judah and Israel in some areas. In Isaiah 30:18-33, God sends a message of hope and a healthy future. He says he is waiting to show mercy to the people and bless all those who will do the right thing. He tells them that they will not continue crying because he will comfort them. God also promises them that they will throw away their idols. Because of this, He will send the rain so that they plant a seed and grow food for themselves. As a plan, he also tells them that he will make them worship the Rock of Israel and they shall be happy and sing like nights when they begin festivals (Lessing, 2013, pp. 50-53). During the days of prophet Jeremiah and Isaiah, God had many positive plans for Israel and Judah.
The messages in the biblical works of prophet Jeremiah and Isaiah have various applications in the theological context of today's Christians. In Isaiah, it is clear that the servants of the suffering servant will live in the midst of a generation which is wicked, crooked and perverse. They shall face rejection and shall be confronted aggressively by people who are idolatrous. These servants can be referred to the Christians of today living in a terribly wicked earth (Lessing, 2013, p. 53). Just like Isaiah faced rebellion and rejection, the Christians are likely to undergo the same experience as they pass God’s message to the people (Lessing, 2013, p. 53).
Just like Jeremiah (Angel, 2017, p. 18), Christians face similar challenges in their work today. Christians are however called to be faithful in their work no matter the prevailing circumstances (Lessing, 2013, p. 53). There are several promises from God to Isaiah, Jeremiah and, Israel and Judah which are relevant to all the Christians (Angel, 2017, p. 19). It is imperative that if Christians meet the conditions set it the prophets’ works, they shall receive the promises thereof (Angel, 2017, p. 19).
God used prophets in the Old Testament times to pass his messages and warnings to his people. Today, Christians play a significant role is the passing of God's messages to the people on earth. There is a close parallelism between these two eras. The people of Judah and Israel sinned against God and became rebellious to him (Tunyogi, 1962, pp. 385-390). God sent his prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah to warn them, but they did not heed. God punished the people of these nations by various judgments. However, God had plans for them that he was to fulfill as presented by both prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah (Chinitz, 2007, pp. 249-254). Christians today face similar situations and challenges as they present God's message in a crooked generation. Christians too, however, have the hope of having God's positive plans fulfilled in their lives and the lives of those who heed god's messages.
Angel, H. (2017). Jeremiah's Trial as a False Prophet (Chapter 26): A Window into the Complex Religious State of the People. Jewish Bible Quarterly, 45(1), 13-20. Retrieved 3 12, 2017, from https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=121366664&site=ehost-live&scope=site
Greenberg, G. (2008). Sin, Iniquity, Wickedness, and Rebellion in the Peshitta to Isaiah and Jeremiah. Aramaic Studies, 6(2), 195-206. Retrieved 3 12, 2017, from https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=51388820&site=ehost-live&scope=site
Lessing, R. R. (2013). Preaching from Isaiah 56-661. Concordia Journal, 39(1), 45-54. Retrieved 3 12, 2017, from https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0001929528&site=ehost-live&scope=site
Terblanche, M. D. (2016). Jeremiah 34:8-22 - A Call for the Enactment of Distributive Justice? Acta Theologica, 36(2), 148-161. Retrieved 3 12, 2017, from https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=120387874&site=ehost-live&scope=site
Tunyogi, C. A. (1962). Rebellions of Israel. Journal of Biblical Literature, 81(4), 385-390. Retrieved 3 2017, 12, from https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0000682194&site=ehost-live&scope=site
Vlach, M. J. (2016). Israel's repentance and the Kingdom of God. The Master's Seminary Journal, 27(2), 161-186. Retrieved 3 12, 2017, from https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLAiC9Y170116002193&site=ehost-live&scope=site
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