A prophet calls for repentance. Biblical prophets often exposed the false righteousness of God’s people and revealed their desperate need for God’s mercy. When a king or a nation’s sinfulness was uncovered, the prophet would call them to repent, reminding them of the nearness and kindness of God.
God’s prophets in the Old Testament didn’t just predict the future, they often called people to repentance as well. Our actions now and what happens in the future are tied to each other.
If you could see into the future, would you want to know what it holds? When I was younger, I would have said yes to this question without hesitation. But the older I get, the more I understand that much of what happens in the future will be the consequences of things—decisions, lucky breaks, hard work, failures, relational dynamics, and many things beyond my control.
If someone told me I will become a millionaire ten years from now, I would have to wonder how that would happen. Would it be through ill-gotten gain? Would I lose relationships along the way, as so many money-driven people seem to? Would the wealth consume me and make me mean? Distrusting? Blind to the needs around me? What would I have to repent of?
Futures don’t just happen. They are, in many ways, built. For this reason, when Old Testament prophets foretold the future, their prophecies often came with a rebuke and a call to repent. The troubles coming Israel’s way were often troubles of their own making. It was the prophet’s job to name sin (2 Samuel 12:1-15) and call the people to repent (2 Chronicles 24:19).
As they did this, the prophets exposed the false righteousness of God’s people and revealed their desperate need for God’s mercy. When a king’s or nation’s sinfulness was uncovered, the prophet would call them to repent, reminding them of the nearness and kindness of God. God’s rebuke always came with the offer of redemption (Isaiah 53:6). A call to repent was a call to return to God (Jeremiah 35:15) with the assurance that God would not turn the offending party away (Joel 2:12-13).
The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus highlight just how joined together our present guilt and future hope are. God’s Old Testament prophets were often treated with scorn for their blunt and judgmental words, but the judgment was not theirs. It was God’s. May God spare us from ever scorning His rebuke, because in that rebuke is a call to repent, and in that call to repent is an offer to be reconciled. If God didn’t care about us, He would not rebuke us. And if God wasn’t committed to dealing with our sin, He wouldn’t have sent His prophets to point it out. And neither would He have sent Christ to atone for it.
But He did.
Hear the call to repent as an invitation to draw near to the heart of God, knowing that He receives our repentance with compassion.
Written By Russ Ramsey