“You will know that I am present in Israel and that I am the Lord your God, and there is no other. My people will never again be put to shame.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
My wife and I used to watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition every single time it was on. We loved that show. The premise was that in each episode a different family got home makeover that involved completely tearing down their old one and building an entirely new one in its place. It was always such tearjerker of a show too. The producers were generally really good about picking families who were particularly deserving of the gift they received. The homes themselves were always amazing and I rarely finished watching an episode without thinking to myself at least once: Why couldn’t it be me getting that?
Now the quick answer was that I hadn’t applied, and besides, the families who got those homes were unfailingly going through some tremendously hard time. I would not have wanted to go through the things they had experienced just to get a new house. I wanted the house without the background that it came out of.
I suspect you’ve experienced something similar in your own life. You’ve seen someone get something really cool and wanted what they were getting. You hadn’t done any of the same work they had done or been through the same set of experiences they had faced, but what they were getting was cool and you wanted it.
That kind of experience jealousy is common. One of the places that followers of Jesus sometimes have this jealousy (although we would never call it this out loud) is with the Old Testament prophets. Verses like this offer these incredible promises to the people of Israel. They are promises of blessing and restoration and never again being put to shame by their enemies. We see these and we want to claim them for ourselves.
Here’s the problem: We aren’t Israel. We don’t have the same relationship with God they did. We haven’t gone through the same experiences they faced. And because of that, we can’t fairly claim for ourselves the promises God gave to them.
But what about?…
This doesn’t mean the Old Testament prophets are irrelevant for us. It doesn’t mean that nothing they say matters for us. There are places that do point forward to the new covenant like the very next verse which the apostle Peter proclaimed to be fulfilled in the coming of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2). But, that tends to be the exception rather than the rule.
But lest I leave you feeling discouraged, here’s the thing: The promises of hope and redemption and restoration and blessing in the New Testament are more than enough to make up for what we can’t claim in the Old. Read the last two chapters of Revelation alone sometime. Our future looks very bright indeed.
Why bother going through the minor prophets, then, if so much of it doesn’t apply to us the way we have often been taught? Because they teach us about the character of God. They help us understand the perfect justice and fierce love of our great God. They give us a better picture of the kind of God who was so committed to seeing His people restored that He sent His only Son to finally die in order to pay the price for their sins permanently and then to let everyone have access to the eternal life His death and resurrection made available. And that’s worth our time even if we can’t claim all the promises in them for ourselves.