When looking at the prophets there is a definite pattern as to what each prophet was called to speak to the people of Israel. The pattern was the following: the people of Israel would turn away from God and worship false gods, God would then allow hardships and call the people to repentance, and then they would turn back to Him with humility. This cycle of finding God, turning from Him, running from Him, and then finally returning would continue throughout the entire Old Testament. Looking from the outside, it seems so easy to think the Israelites were crazy. Why didn’t they remember everything that God had done for them? Why didn’t they turn away from their sin when they saw miracles? Why would they keep going through the same cycle over and over again and not realize it?
One story that we talked about was the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Elijah challenges them to prove who the true god is by setting up a sacrifice but instead of lighting it, they would ask their god to send the fire. The prophets of Baal prayed for hours hoping for their god to send fire but it was to no avail. Next, Elijah takes a turn and decides to make it more difficult by adding buckets of water to his sacrifice before asking God to answer his prayers by setting it on fire. God answers Elijah’s prayer immediately and consumes the wet sacrifice with fire. I don’t know about you, but if I saw that I would be in complete awe and immediately fall to my knees to worship God, but that’s not what the Israelites did. Instead they did pretty much nothing and went about their daily life like nothing had happened. That sounds crazy right?! Well, actually, that’s exactly what we would have done and what we do on a daily basis. If we examine our hearts carefully, we would see that we are just like the Israelites and go through our daily lives like He hasn’t radically changed our lives.
Hearing a story like that and realizing that we are no different from the Israelites can be very humbling and maybe seem a little hopeless. Truly, we are a hopeless people with no chance of breaking our cycle of sin. However, as a Christian, we become children of God and He is a good father who gives hope to the hopeless. We are absolutely void of hope apart from Christ, but we can never be separated from His love and in turn our hope. Throughout the Old Testament we see so many examples of situations that seem hopeless for the Israelites but God was always there and never gave up on His people. There were multiple empires that captured the Israelites and kept them in exile and yet those were times when God showed Himself the most. Ezekiel talked about God breathing life into dry bones and we see yet again that God has conquered death! Death always seems like the ultimate end for humans because we are so wrapped up in the idea of time, but time does not restrain our God. That means that death is not the end. What is more hopeful than that?! We serve a king who can never die and will never be conquered! And even more than that, he is a king that is also a father who will never leave us and never forsake us! He loves because of who He is and not because of what we’ve done and that idea will radically change your life and your eternity.
- Kelsey Turner