How weird are the prophets? Perhaps that what makes them special! Some examples: Isaiah was told to walk around naked and barefoot for 3 years to make a statement, that the Egyptians and Cushites would be led naked and barefoot to Assyria Isaiah 20:2-4; Jeremiah staggered under an ox-yoke to draw attention to his message of doom Jeremiah 27:1-8; Ezekiel lay on his side for months at a time, bound by ropes, facing a clay model of Jerusalem Ezekiel 4:1-8 , symbolising the siege of Jerusalem. In these ways the prophets conveyed something stronger than mere words.
Though the prophets each had a similar message of warning, they each had their distinctive style. Obadiah resumed his prophecy onto one sheet, whereas Isaiah’s scroll stretched out to 24 feet. Amos was a peasant. Isaiah worked for one king and was killed by another. Daniel was a high ranking civil servant who served under two different pagan empires. Jonah was prepared to drown rather than prophesy. Zechariah’s visions make Ezekiel’s appear tame by comparison.
If reading the prophets seems confusing at times, perhaps we need to realise that the reason is that they were not all written as a continuous narrative, but are a number of different prophesies or speeches made over a number of years. and later compiled as a collection with a context that is not always obvious. This is why they appear to abound with repetitions, changes of mood and strange images that meant something to their original audience.
So what chance does a non-theologian have of finding their way in the prophets? There are a few clues that will help us to get to the essential message they contain…
Lord, give me wisdom to understand your word, could be your prayer today, then pray for:
Pat & Catherine
Jotham & Jethro