Working your way through the major or minor prophets, where God is rebuking His people, it can become tedious to read. However, as one reads along, a reader will invariably come across an “if-then” statement. A good Bible student will note and highlight these if-then statements because they indicate application of God’s word to the people to whom they are being spoken. These if-then statements are landmarks NOT to be ignored.
They can and will remind us of:
God’s infinite goodness. Like a parent not wanting their child to make a choice that would lead to difficulty, God offers, in His goodness, an understanding of good choices and bad choices—of positive ends and negative ends. If we appreciate His goodness, then we will choose what’s right (Is. 1:18-20).
God’s limited patience. God is always good, but God’s patience with people who continually choose what is wrong will not last forever. He allowed the Northern Kingdom of Israel to continue in its sinful ways for almost 200 years. He allowed Southern Judah to continue for about 150 years after the North was taken captive. His patience had a limit— if we see the time He’s given us to repent as evidence of His patience with us, then we will conform to His will (2 Pet. 3:8-9).
Our choice to trust and obey. As was mentioned, some things in the prophets are hard to read and hard to understand. However, the simple message is that God will bless His people if they obey, and He will punish His people if they choose not to obey (See Deut. 28:1, 15). If we choose to trust and obey Him, then we can count on His presence and blessings in our lives.
The simplicity of God’s word. The prophets preached time and time again to a people who had set their minds to do the things with which God was not pleased. Even in the twilight evenings of Judah’s last days, King Zedekiah called the prophet Jeremiah to know what he should do (Jer. 38:14-17). Jeremiah answered as he had for so many years: if-then (Jer. 38:17-23)! Today, God’s message through Jesus is simple: if we obey the Gospel, then we will be saved (cf. Mark 16:15-16; Gal. 6:7-10; Rom. 10:9-10).
The Reminder, Graeber Road Church of Christ Weekly Bulletin, March 24, 2019.