Understanding The Bible
Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
It is of utmost importance to understand that there is no place for the prophet in the normal law economy. The presence of a prophet is a definite sign of declension and apostasy from God. It is only because the nation has gone away from God that a prophet is needed to call them back to God. Therefore, these prophecies are full of fierce denunciations of national sin; of dire predictions of fast-approaching judgment; of tender pleadings for repentance; of appeals to past and present mercies, as evidence of God's faithfulness, with a view to showing how shameful is the nation's unfaithfulness; of promise of deliverance from present or impending affliction if only repentance is forthcoming (as in the earlier prophecies) or the pronouncement of inexorable doom where repentance has been trifled with (as just before the captivity).
Yet despite these most necessary messages of denunciation, we see the glorious promises of the future, like rays of sunlight peeping out from behind the storm clouds, cheering a believing remnant. Great unconditional, unequivocal, irrevocable promises of the Eternal God, who sees the end from the beginning. He declares that in spite of their sin. He will NEVER break His covenant with Abraham and David.
Messiah, the Saviour would come; He would die for the sins of the people; He would gather again His dispersed and oppressed brethren and thoroughly purge iniquity from His people; He would deliver them by His personal intervention in the hour of their deepest need, destroy their enemies -- for they are His also -- and bring all nations under His beneficent sway, with Israel the head of the nations and not the tail; and all the world would know the Lord and be blessed through Israel in earth's Golden Age.
These blessed messages of consolation are not contradictory to the denunciatory messages, but complementary. The purpose of judgment is but to make glory possible. It is not vindictive but gracious and corrective, that through true repentance and thorough purging the glorious future might be realized.
And the dominant message of the prophets is that all this is to be accomplished by and through Messiah. "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." He is the Saviour; He is the Judge. He is the Deliverer out of Zion; He is the King that shall rule in righteousness with a rod of iron!
"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing!" (Rev. 5:12)
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