Summary: An introduction to the OT prophets
A. The preacher to the Presidents, Billy Graham, now 93 years old, has come out with some surprising statements in the past few months. Recently, Mr. Graham quotes his late wife Ruth as saying, “If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.” Mr. Graham goes on and says that since she made that remark millions of babies have been aborted and our nations seems largely unconcerned. “Self centered indulgence, pride and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle.” Over the years Mr. Graham has stayed away from statements like this. Why such strong statements today? Mr. Graham gives his answer. “Because of the terrible downward spiral of our nation’s moral standards and the idolatry of worshipping false gods such as technology and sex.”
All of this talk about sin, repentance and judgment reminds me of the OT prophets.
Starting a series this fall on OT prophets. Mainly focusing on 2 prophets from OT. Tonight
Why study the OT? We are NT Christians and we don’t need the OT. Is that right?
We need to understand that the Bible is laid out in progressive revelation. In math we don’t start out by doing calculus. We start by learning our numbers and then addition, subtraction and from there we learn more. Everything builds on something we learned before.
If we start with the NT we are trying to do calculus without learning the basics. Not possible
Probably the best way to understand the relationship between the Old and New testaments is that the OT prepares a firm foundation for the NT, with concepts like sacrifice, circumcision, Passover, and the law, which take on further significance in the NT.
For example, an important concept in the Bible is covenant. Jeremiah 31:31-34 is often referred to in the NT. This passage states 3 new outcomes for the New Covenant:
Vs. 33- “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts”- is fulfilled in Acts 2 when God sends the HS to live in believers’ hearts.
Vs. 34- “No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest”- is talking about difference between the OT and NT. Under Jewish Old Covenant, one was born a Jew, circumcized on the 8th day, took part in the rituals with their parents and then later began to learn about the Lord. Under New Covenant, a person is not born a Christian. A person reaches the age of accountability and then is obedient to the gospel commands, and then on knows something about the Lord from their hearts.
Vs. 34- “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more”- is fulfilled in Christ’s work on the cross- in the OT sins were covered or rolled forward by the blood of animals sacrifices, but in the NT our sins are washed away by the shed blood of Christ.
Another example is communion. Without some knowledge of Passover from the OT, we are left out as to the symbolic importance of Christ being our Passover Lamb.
Another example is baptism. Without some knowledge of the ministry of Elijah and Elisha and 2 Kings 5 where Naaman the Syrian is told to go dip in the Jordan River 7 times to be healed of his leprosy, we are left out of the symbolism of when John the Baptist does the same
Thesis: Why study and preach from the OT prophets?
1. They are wild but effective communicators
The prophets had to get attention. They could not be normal or dull. Never know what to expect. They loved the shock factor and the bizarre. Here are some examples:
Isaiah preached stripped (naked?, at least in loincloth) and barefoot for 3 years- Isaiah 20
Jeremiah wore a yoke. One of the false prophets got tired of it and broke it- Jeremiah 27-28
Ezekiel laid on his left side for 390 days and then laid on his right side for 40 days. Imagine the sores on that side of his body. He had rationed food while he lay on his side and while on his side he had to bake bread using cow manure as fuel- Ezekiel 4
Jonah was inside a fish’s belly for 3 days. Imagine the smell while preaching to Nineveh.
This being said we might get the wrong impression. Might think that they are wackos. Some have portrayed the prophets as men who often went into frenzied trances and babbled uncontrollably until the Spirit of God left them. No, they had sound minds
The prophets were not fortune tellers. The prophets did not indulge in sorcery or divination. As God revealed his future plans to them, they revealed them to the people to motivate them to holiness and godliness. No interest in making a profit by predicting the future