Jesse Tree: Day 16 Prophets (Ex.4:10-17/Acts 2:25-31)
Working our way through the Old Testament, we have begun to see in just how many ways God spoke to our ancestors (see Heb.1:1). It isn’t just in specific spoken prophecies that tell us directly about the coming Christ. He is also speaking through the structures of worship (tabernacle, festivals, laws and the sacrifices), and through events in people’s lives (Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac). Jesus is also revealed through the offices and roles that people inhabited in the life of the ancient Church: kings, priests, judges, etc. These roles give us categories and pictures that will allow us to understand who Jesus is and what He does. One of those pictures is that of the prophet (Dt.18:18).
Since Moses great sermon ‘east of the Jordan’ (what we call Deuteronomy), the spectre of exile hung over the future of Israel (see e.g. Dt.28), and as it drew ever closer, so the prophets spoke with greater urgency. But sin is both irrational and self-destructive, blinding us to its consequences (Prov.14:12 & 16:25). God’s answer to the people’s stubborn refusal of His vision was to send prophets to remind them of their origins and their destiny, to warn them of the consequences of their decisions, and to call them back to faithfulness. Their refusal broke God’s heart, and the prophets painfully embodied the message they proclaimed: Hosea’s broken marriage, the death of Ezekiel’s wife, the weeping of Jeremiah. Their visions were often bleak and terrifying, their message uncompromising. But in the end they were, by many of our standards, failures (Is.6:9-13). Israel went into exile, the Temple destroyed. God’s vision lay in ruins.
But the Spirit hadn’t just enabled the prophets to understand what was happening in their own day. They searched intently for the future God had ordained. Whether it was the return from exile, the coming of Christ to fulfil the Old Testament, or the end of the age, they held out hope: that the final word to the Church would not be our sin, but His grace. They were those who had seen Christ (John 12:41; Ezek.1; I Kings 22:19 etc.). They weren’t merely social commentators, voicing their own insights and opinions. They spoke the very words of God (II Pet.1:19-21). What they said, God said; what God said, they said. He put His own words in their mouth (Jer.1:9 etc.). That is what makes both their predictions of judgement and their offer of grace so utterly compelling. Whether it is Jeremiah’s buying of land in anticipation of the return from exile (Jer.32), or promising the raising up of David’s righteous Branch (23:5); or Isaiah’s vision of a new heavens and a new earth (65:17-25); or Micah’s promise of a Ruler from Bethlehem (5:2), we can trust them implicitly. All these and hundreds more examples have an absolute and unassailable authority, for ‘This is what the Lord says…’ (e.g. Is.61:1).
The prophets who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ was pointing when He predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow… (I Pet.1:10-11)
Ideas for Family Devotions:
Seeds Family Worship, ‘I love your Word’ (Heb.4:12), can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVrR5Y2Wzh4
Older children might benefit from the Heidelberg Catechism, rather than those suggested yesterday. You can find it all online here: http://www.heidelberg-catechism.com/en/ Lord’s Day 12 talks about Jesus as Prophet. There will be a prize for anyone (under 18!) who memorises the epic answer to Qu.1!
Older children might also enjoy the story of William Tyndale (about 30 mins): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nbjj8iAxOKM