If you’ve ever settled down to read the Old Testament prophets, and as you read you haven’t found anything that affects the way you live your life, you’re reading the prophets all wrong. I have said that there are only two reasons why God would ever tell us anything about the future. (Why should he? What right do we have to know what is going to happen tomorrow?) But he does tell us. One reason is so we can do something about it. We can change our lives, or maybe run for our lives if need be. Maybe we can even change the outcome. Secondly, so we can understand events as they happen and see God’s hand in history. He has a point whenever he send a prophet along.
Real prophets don’t make comfortable reading. In fact, they can be depressing at times. But there’s a short passage in Ecclesiastes where wise old Solomon said:
It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.
And in one of his proverbs he said:
Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
There’s a lot of tragedy in the prophets, and a lot of death and destruction, a lot of fear—people hiding out in rocks and caves. But, you know, in spite of all the tragedy, it is a place where the heart is made better. I feel sorry for those who spend all their time in the prophets trying to outline the future—to chart the course of future events—because when they are preoccupied with prediction, they are missing the life-changing message of the prophecy. You can do a lot of work, put together charts, line it all out—documented and footnoted in every detail—and then…everything can be changed.