Q&A: Prophetic Activity Before the Exile

Prophetic Activity Before the Exile

Why were the exiles of Judah and Israel preceded by so much activity from Hebrew prophets?

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Answer

Prophetic activity was really profound in ancient Israel before the exile. And evidence of that is that there were sixteen prophets that God raised up to speak a word to the nation. And this is because… Why sixteen prophets? Why not one? Why not five? But there are sixteen of them. And so, that is evidence that the story of the Bible is that God is relentlessly pursuing people for relationship. But in the Old Testament those sixteen prophets are really visual aids of God's grace that he is relentlessly pursuing Israel for relationship and the hope that Israel will get back in relationship with God as she had stepped out time and time again. And so, in that regard prophetic activity is profound, and sixteen visual aids of God's grace show up on the scene of redemptive history in the Old Testament and reveal that. But there's more that I would say as to why there was so much prophetic activity before the exile. There is a great verse in 2 Chronicles 36 verses 15 and 16, and it tells us from the perspective of the Chronicler. So, this is a historical writer writing after the events of the southern kingdom and giving his perspective on what he thought what he thought why Jerusalem fell. And the perspective is he highlights God's character in all of this. And so, 2 Chronicles 36 says this, that "God sent persistently to them by his messengers." And why did he do that? He sent them persistently with these messengers because, it says, "he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling." And so the Chronicler is telling us that God's very character was such that he sent the prophets, that it was in his very nature to give them warnings and grace through these prophets. And I think it is really important for us to remember that because a lot of times we think of the prophets as breathing nothing but fire and brimstone down on their audience. But from the perspective of the historian, the Chronicler, these prophets were given by God out of his grace and out of his compassion. But the sad story is, although God persistently kept sending the prophets to his people, the nation rejected the prophets so much so that the wrath of God had to be brought about in the fall of Jerusalem and there was no remedy, as it were, for what needed to take place. So, the prophets then are in many ways the visual aids —the writing prophets — are God's visual aid of his grace to a nation, but they also reveal his character and that he's not ready to just judge any would-be transgressor and shake his finger that them, but he is extending his character through bringing them on the scene.

Answer by Dr. Donna Petter