It would be wrong to say that the Old Testament prophets bring nothing but bad news; they give us hope. The problem is that the good news they bring is mostly way out into the future. In the short term, they prophesy little beyond suffering and pain. Why is that? Possibly the most obvious reason is that there is no need for God to send us a prophet to tell us that we are doing just fine.
Imagine for a moment that there is a fundamental standard of right and wrong conduct that grows out of the nature of man and man’s social interactions. Natural law—it’s just the way things are. Imagine that standard is expressed in the last six of the ten commandments and all the other laws that can be derived from these. Now imagine that the first four commandments are the guarantors of the last six.
In other words, the form of revealed worship of God keeps us mindful of our duties to God. And our duty to God guarantees our duty to our fellow man. So, when we neglect our duty to God, our social fabric will eventually begin to unravel. And that is the time when God usually sends a prophet to tell us what we are doing wrong. Take Jeremiah for example. He isn’t all bad news, but the good news he has is way off into the future. Let’s see what he has to say in chapter 30.