Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel
1) God is in control.
God decided how long His people would be exiled (Jeremiah declared it to them, from God, to be 70 years).
God put it into the mind of the new Persian king Cyrus to send the Jews back.
Isaiah and Jeremiah say that God sends disaster and that a man’s steps are set by the Lord. No, God is not the Author of sin. And He does not do evil. But just like Peter in the book of Acts said that God predestined the Crucifixion, the worst sin ever committed, these prophets make it clear that every second of the Exile and every wicked ruler who came against the people of God was planned out by God.
That is good news.
More appropriately, it is a part of the Good News.
God planned for Adam’s sin, set apart the prophets who foretold the Savior before they were even born (see Jeremiah 1), predestined the Crucifixion, was pleased to crush Jesus for our sake, and has already told us that that Jesus will defeat all evil and death and place the universe under God the Father.
From Genesis 3 in the very beginning of the Bible to 1 Corinthians 15 towards the end and straight on through to the last pages of Revelation, God’s Word says He runs history.
Put another way, if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ then you’ve been saved by the God who decided how big the Persian Empire would be and decided how long Alexander the Great would live.
That God knows you by name and adopted you in Christ Jesus.
2) Idolatry = Adultery.
Jeremiah states this in his prophetic book, but Ezekiel, coming a few decades later, really hammers it home.
Ezekiel writes that it was essentially like the people of God paid other men to help them break their covenant wedding vows to God.
That is what worshiping something other than the God who made you and wants your heart is. If you know the living God, and have been made a part of His beloved Bride, then loving anything more than Him is gross, crass unfaithfulness. It’s cheating on your Redeemer.
Paul Tripp often points this out: Every human is always worshiping something. Human beings are born worshipers. And we worship whatever we think will most satisfy us.
Whatever has your heart, whatever controls your behavior and desires, that’s what you’re bending your knee to. That’s what you’re sacrificing to at the high places in your soul. That’s what you’re singing worship songs to and praising and giving glory to.
TV? Losing weight? Being popular? Being successful in your career? Getting noticed? Fame? Your girlfriend? Your kids?
When we seek ultimate meaning, ultimate satisfaction in anything but the Father, Son, and Spirit, we’re either cheating on the God we know or running further away from the God we don’t.
3) God is more faithful than you are.
Hallelujah, brothers and sisters.
I was a train wreck like the prophet Hosea’s wife, Gomer. She loved boyfriends and romance more than her husband and more than God, and she chased dead end feelings all the way (I can only assume) to her grave.
That was me. I drank myself stupid out of boredom and cowardice, loved short physical pleasure more than eternal spiritual happiness, and rebelled against the living and loving God.
But then He reached out and touched me. Adopted me. Showed me mercy. Like the filthy undeserving tax collector, Zacchaeus, like the persecutor of Christians Saul of Tarsus, and like every Christian who’s ever lived, God gave me the promise and the Covenant and the mercy and the grace that not a single molecule in me deserved.
At the end of Ezekiel 16, after describing Israel’s unfaithfulness, God says this through His prophet:
“For thus says the Lord God: I will deal with you as you have done, you who have despised the oath in breaking the covenant, yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant. Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you take your sisters, both your elder and your younger, and I give them to you as daughters, but not on account of the covenant with you. I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord God.”
If salvation depended on us no one would be saved. If it was our promise-keeping or covenant-keeping that got us into God’s family (or was the ultimate cause in keeping us in the family), then it’d be hopeless. God says in Isaiah that He has a people who did not seek Him.
Amen. That’s us. This story, this salvation, this Kingdom, this Gospel is about His faithfulness and glory and goodness.
For His sovereignty, his love for us despite our idolatry, and His faithfulness God gets the credit. He’s the One worth speaking about, testifying to, reading and singing of, and worshiping.
And these prophets knew that in their hearts, and in their frail and embattled old bones.