Old Testament Prophets
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In the days of the prophets rich people were unfair in the ways they treated common people. The rich people took the poor people to court trials in order to take their money away. The rich people gave bribes to the judges so that the judges would make decisions in favor of the rich people. The government leaders abused the poor and demanded heavy taxes from them. The leaders in Israel were evil and corrupt in those days. They were cruel to the poor, they used their power and authority to harm the poor, instead of help them. The people spent all their money on themselves, they were selfish. They could have used their money to help the poor and needy but instead they used their money to live lavish lives in luxury. They continued to worship God without turning away from their sins. God rejected their worship because He hates insincere worship. Prophets in the Old Testament were necessary in that they provided insight on many issues such as social injustice, idolatry, and religious ritualism. The prophets of the Old Testament taught instruction, wisdom, and warning. Many instances of social injustice are illustrated in the book of Amos. The prophet Micah fought social injustice as well as idolatry. The books of Jonah and Hosea illustrate many recorded instances of social injustice as well as idolatry. Many instances of religious ritualism are also recorded in these books.
The prophets were great teachers who had much to say about God, the way man lived, social issues they faced, religious rituals they took part in, and their teachings are as relevant today as they were then. Amos had a lot to say about social injustice. He preached a coming judgment against Israel for oppressing the people. Amos 5:14-15 states, “Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say He is. Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph”. Amos was sent to the people of Israel to warn them of the destruction that was to come if they continued in their disobedience. Amos 7, 8, and 9 was not of total destruction because in Amos 9:11-15, there was a hint about restoration and blessings. Idolatry was a dominant issue in the Old Testament. The prophet Jonah wrote, “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love”. Micah teaches that God was not only interested in Israel’s offerings and sacrifice. He was more so interested in man’s humility and obedience. Man is to live by every word of the Bible, line upon line and precept upon precept. Micah also taught that the church rituals are meaningless without obedience and showing action because faith without works is dead.
Hosea compared Israel to spoiled grapes, a wild vine, a trained heifer, and a rebellious son, and led God to lay ruin to a large portion of His people causing the remnants to seek repentance before Him. Hosea, who was commanded by God to marry a prostitute illustrated Israel’s unfaithful covenant towards God. Israel had decided to worship idols and make their own gods during this time. Through Hosea’s marriage, he taught the extent of unfaithfulness Israel had with their relationship with God. Through Hosea’s marriage, one could see how deep and great God’s love is for man, no matter how far they have turned away from Him. Though the teachings of the prophets was many years ago, man can still practically apply these principals to our lives because the world today mirrors Israel during the time of Amos. Wealth and selfishness has blinded man today to the need of the poor. Personal conviction to change is greatly necessary in the United States. Man needs to stay focused on God and care for and love on another as He has commanded us. We have learned from the prophets that idolatry takes our focus off of God. The prophet’s teaching on social injustice has taught us that God requires us to care for one another. The prophet’s teaching on religious ritualism shows us that God is more concerned with our obedience to Him versus our offering.