Again and again I sent all my servants the prophets to you. They said, “Each of you must turn from your wicked ways and reform your actions; do not follow other gods to serve them. Then you will live in the land I have given to you and your fathers.” But you have not paid attention or listened to me.
The impression of the role of a prophet that I received growing up was one who foretold the future—that was about it. But really, that was only a secondary part of what the prophet was sent to do. They only foretold the future when it served the greater cause of calling the people back to faithfulness and obedience. For example, God instructs Jeremiah to write down all the words of judgment God had spoken through him and to take them to the king of Judah. The purpose behind it is that, “Perhaps when the people of Judah hear about every disaster I plan to inflict on them, each of them will turn from his wicked way; then I will forgive their wickedness and their sin” (Jeremiah 36:3). The prophetic word was two-fold: calling the people away from wrong action and idolatry, back to right action and faithfulness to God. Evil against one’s neighbour and idolatry are intertwined; the two go hand in hand. The prophetic call is one that we constantly need to hear, and to which we ought to be submissive and responsive, for we are all sinful and weak, as the prophet says, “All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:12; Psalm 14:3).