Love of God in the Prophets

20th November, 2009 - Posted by Claire Larsen - No Comments

Gloom and doom. Wrath and judgment. Is this what you think about when you read the Old Testament prophets? To be honest, I used to think this. I would flip forward past the prophets and read the gospels or flip quickly backwards and read a chapter from Psalms or Proverbs. All the “woe to you ” and “the day of the LORD is coming” statements were just too depressing for me.

Then I went to seminary and had to take a Bible knowledge test. So, I decided I’d better read through all the prophets, and in doing so I learned something amazing. Yes, there was plenty of gloom and doom in words of the prophets — they were, of course, warning the people to repent of great sin! But as I really listened to what I was reading, I realized something surprising! Over and over again, the LORD God spoke about His great love for His adulterous and idolatrous people. The metaphors were tender and heartbreaking. In Hosea, the LORD said, “Yet it was I who taught Epharim to walk” (Hosea 11:3). Can you picture God as a Father bending over as He holds two little hands and hobbling along behind His baby son? And the laments from a sorrowing Heavenly Father (“My people are determined to turn from me … How can I give you up?” — Hosea 11:7,8) brought me to tears.

I had to ask myself the question: do I hang in there with people who sin against me like the LORD God does? How many times do I allow a friend to hurt me before I say, “That’s it! I don’t need her for a friend!”

It’s true that the prophets are filled with gloom and doom, but when I read these precious books, do I miss the mercy, faithfulness, patience, and love of God? In the past, I did. Now when I read the prophets, I shake my head in astonishment that God doesn’t give up on us … that God gives abundant lovingkindness to people who trample it underfoot and stubbornly go their own way.

Let me suggest that you read through the prophets, particularly the minor prophets, and as you do so, highlight or make a list of all the times God expressed His love for His unfaithful people. Take note of metaphors that God uses or affectionate ways God speaks of His people. Let me know what you discover and how you gain a greater understanding of God’s deep, deep love of love for you.

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