Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Prophets Repeat

When people start talking about the Old Testament prophets, I often find myself in a very small minority. Common frustrations include their repetitiveness, their focus on the harsher attributes of God, the gloom and doom, their lack of Gospel oriented messages. But I find them fascinating and hopeful for all of those same reasons.

Let's take the repetitiveness issue. The prophets tend to repeat themselves. Over and over and over. And over again. We read about "the day of the Lord" about a bajillion times (bajillion is just a bazillion raised to the tenth power). God is wrathful. God is vengeful. God is angry and indignant. They echo each other and they repeat themselves. In the 48 chapters of Ezekiel, we read "they will know that I am the Lord" at least 55 times. I started counting. We get it, we get it, we get it.

Or do we?

Here's what I love. It reveals so much to us about God's grace. The prophets are not just about what God is saying but how He is saying it. And how often. He is willing to patiently repeat himself over and over to make sure we get it. And one more time for good measure. We don't hear him say, "I'm not going to tell you again." He just says it again. And he says it again so that "we will know" He is the Lord. I'm thankful for that.

What if God wasn't willing to repeat himself to us today? Most of us would be hopelessly lost before we hit the age of seven. Or at least I would. I find myself needing to learn the same lessons over and over, and I'm thankful that the Father is patient and tenacious in his love to bear with me there. When we read the prophets, we get to hear it repeated. And we also see the tenacious heart of a Father who pursues us until we are sick of hearing it.

I'll deal with the harsh attributes and gloom and doom later. For now, let me just also state that our culture not only endures but giddily celebrates and repeats ridiculous repetitive drivel and nonsense from the songs of our musical idols. Repetitiveness is normal in poetry. Embrace the poetry of the prophets and be grateful for the tenacious grace of God.

2 Comments:

At 9:35 AM, Anonymous Will Johnston said...

Part of what I wrestle with when reading the prophets is that once I get that point, it seems less than optimally useful to continue reading. I think part of the problem is that with Garden to City, there's a set amount I need to cover. If I were to go through them more slowly, really soak up meaning from each stanza, reference commentary notes, etc., they would probably be much more beneficial.

 
At 11:04 AM, Blogger Theresa Haskins said...

I love hearing you preach on the OT - you notice things I have never seen....thanks for encouraging us to think!

 

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