All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshiped other gods and followed the practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced. The Israelites secretly did things against the Lord their God that were not right. From watchtower to fortified city they built themselves high places in all their towns. They set up sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. At every high place they burned incense, as the nations whom the Lord had driven out before them had done.
They did wicked things that aroused the Lord’s anger. They worshiped idols, though the Lord had said, “You shall not do this.” The Lord warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers: “Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees, in accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your ancestors to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets.” (2 Kings 17:7–13)
Core truth: God sent prophets to call God’s people to realign with their vocation of serving as God’s missional community for the nations.
God’s prophets are diverse in origin. Among the writing prophets, Ezekiel is a priest, Isaiah is a political insider, and Amos is a shepherd. While most are men, when we include the narratives about prophets in Joshua–Kings, we will discover that there is a female prophet named Huldah (2 Kings 22:14–20) during the days of Josiah.
God’s prophets also deploy both words and physical acts to proclaim God’s will for his people. The actual words of the prophets dominate their books, but the prophets use other methods as well. Here are some examples: the book of Jonah speaks God’s Word through a narrative about Jonah’s mission to the Assyrian city Nineveh. Hosea marries an unfaithful woman for the purposes of illustrating Israel’s unfaithfulness to God and his persistent love to woo Israel back to faithfulness.
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