Poets, Prophets, Preachers: Conclusion

danielprayingforhispeopleOnce again we will let the words of Eugene Peterson provoke our thoughts on the prophets.  He states, “Their words and visions penetrate the illusions with which we cocoon ourselves from reality.  We humans have an enormous capacity for denial and self-deceit.  We incapacitate ourselves from dealing with the consequences of sin, for facing judgment, for embracing the truth.  Then the prophets step in and help us first to recognize and then enter the new life God has for us, the life that hope in God opens up.”

He continues, “The prophets don’t explain God.  They shake us out of old conventional habits of small- mindedness, of trivializing god-gossip, and set us on our feet in wonder, obedience, and worship.  If we insist on understanding them before we live into them, we will never get it.”

Sixteen of these prophets wrote what they spoke.  Continuing in historical chronological order, we have posted the second group of eight.  Here we shall look at the overarching message of the final eight prophets.

  • ZephaniahNothing about us is random.  The way we think and feel and encounter and embrace the people in our lives has to do with God.  We live in a vast world of interconnectedness, and these connections, along with our choices, have consequences.  When all of this comes together in the sight of and under the scrutiny of God, it is called “Judgment Day.”  (1:7, 14; 2:3)
  • HabakkukLiving by faith is a bewildering adventure.  It is surprising that God-followers do not get preferential treatment in this life.  The prophet faces us with God as he is, not as we imagine Him to be.  When God doesn’t make sense, it is vital that we wait with expectation, listen with anticipation, and pray with intention.  Only then will we find ourselves inhabiting the large world of God’s sovereignty. (2:4, 20; 3:19)
  • EzekielWhen catastrophe strikes, we are tempted to respond with denial or despair.  Ezekiel saw in wild and unforgettable images that God was at work in a catastrophic era, and that in the wreckage and the rubble, He was sovereignly using the disaster to create a new people for Himself. (37:26-27)
  • JeremiahThe prophet lived in disruptive times.  Everything that could go wrong did go wrong.  What happens when everything we believe in and everything we live by is crushed by circumstances?  We choose to hold on, abandon God, or let the catastrophe re-form our lives to conform to who God actually is and not the way we wished Him to be. (9:23-24; 17:12)
  • DanielObedience to God in the pressures and stresses of everyday living and trust in God’s ways in the large sweep of history are always at risk.  This is compounded by suffering and persecution.  For Daniel and others there was no observable evidence to confirm their obedience to God or their trust in God.  In the midst of and despite all this, the influence of the prophet continues to reverberate through the generations like a tsunami. (7:15-18; 12:3)
  • HaggaiWe must remain grounded and connected in the ordinary world in which we take the initiative to live out our extraordinary beliefs.  We inhabit space, therefore the sacred and the spiritual is intimately connected to the mundane and the physical. (2:6-9)
  • ZechariahWe need to be pulled out of our self-preoccupation and into working together as a people of God.  We must seek, via the Holy Spirit, to maintain our magnificent identity as God’s people. (4:6; 8:20-23)
  • MalachiThis prophet keeps us listening for God, waiting in anticipation for God, and responding to God.  We need to stay rooted in what God has done in the past, and stay alert to what God will do in the days ahead. (3:16-18)