Hello, I am currently working through the Major and Minor prophets and have the distinct feeling that there is a lot going on that I am missing. I have a couple of questions.
It seems that the principle temptation and fault that man fell into back in ancient mesopotamia was the sin of idolatry. Yet true idolatry is almost non-existant today. Did something change in our nature?
Because the prophesies of ancient Israel and of the Messiah have been fulfilled, what further profit can we get from the old testament prophecies? Is there another sense to read them in?
Does anyone know any resources I can look at to help explain this?
Salutations, The Old Testament has troubling areas.
There are beautiful parts in areas. The prophets were used by God to bring His children back to their core faith when contaminated by outside resources. i.e. marrying pagan wives brought idolatry into a faithful Jewish home. Isaiah has gorgeous parts in it. Isaiah 45 predicts the personage of the Messiah. Though the Jews today feel "the suffering servant is Israel.
Jeremiah was obedient calling the Jews back to order but they killed him. (Kill the messenger thing).
I can’t recall which book of OT has this but I love this verse:“YOUR TRADITIONS AND HOLOCOSTS ARE AN ABOMINATION TO ME. WHAT I WANT IS A CIRCUMCISION OF YOUR HEART.” God told the Israelite how to perform ritual sacrifices and what traditions to kerp. They would bring imperfect animals to sacrifice. He wanted the best one.
His covenant of circumcision, He compared to excision part of your heart or surrendering all of yourself to Him. I argue w God at Easter why if He wanted that total commitment of our hearts, why did He make Jesus suffer and be crucified at Easter? Why did He want blood sacrifices. Seeing Tarzan before growing in knowledge of church teachings, I did not respect human or animal sacrifice, one would see stupid natives do. Here my God asked for animal sacrifice over agricultural ones. (Cain and Able). Then, Jesus endured what He did for my sin!
Seeing His passion and death always moves me.
Like, “God, your the King, You could change the rules!” “FATHER, IF YOU CAN TAKE THIS CUP FROM ME, BUT NOT MY WILL BUT THINE.” TAKE THE CUP AND WE’LL COMMIT OUR HEARTS. I thought it was a good deal.
The OT and Prophets have a secret code proclaiming the Messiah. i.e. Asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham felt God would resurrect Isaac because of His promise of a nation. Another thinking is it was a hidden communication that a father would sacrifice his son As God would sacrifice His Son, Jesus in the future.
The tabernacle in the widlerness when drawn out makes a cross linning up the sacrificial alter, the laver, the Ark of Covenant=vertical beam. Line up the show bread table which held 12 loaves for 12btribes. which was across from the candelabra which had almond design and 12 stems for 12 tribes. Draw a line across=horizontal line=cross. Gold inlaid acacia wood stood for God and could not touch earth. Silver
Inlaid acacia was baseboard and stood for Emmanual/Jesus. God’s Son w us. It could touch earth.
Even the cloth and skin layers had symbolism which I forgot.
You can google anything that will take you to different sites for Biblical references. Sometimes you can buy a Bible study book on Isaiah, Daniel,etc. Perchance Amazon or CAF HAS a book on prophets.
in Christ’s love
Idolotry does still exist but we’re just nicer about it these days. Buddhism and natural religions like Shinto have tendencies toward ascribing spiritual (even divine) power to physical things. This is to say nothing of actual paganism which goes beyond other natural religions (to the point of superstition).
But those are mostly eastern religious ideas. In the West we’ve had a long tradition towards observation and objectivity, so animism stopped being the western zeitgeist as soon as we were graced with Christianity. Since then we changed from the Greek idea of many gods for many things, to one God visible in his creation. And that still affects our culture to this day, even though atheism is trying desperately to bring back old paganistic concepts.
Oops! Sorry, I didn’t mean to go on a rant there.
Anyway, as to your second question, there are many different senses to read the Old prophets in. For the Christian, there are two main: the literal and the Christocentric.
The literal, as the catechism points out, is what the other senses are based upon. In this, we find that Israel was graced by god with privilege and primacy among the nations. They had the Law, but because they didn’t follow it for long, they were to be punished. But they would find redemption in God.
The Christocentric is an elaboration of the literal. It posits Christ as the full and true source of that redemption. It isn’t simply about foretelling that there will be a Christ, but who he is and what he stands for.
The entire Old Testament is full of those patterns of Christ as a redeemer. We call them “types” of Christ, and they’re what truly unlocks the truth and mystery of the Old Testament. If you read the prophets, the Law, and even the history books and poetry recognizing which parts are alluding to Jesus symbolically, it will always paint a consistent picture of the story of redemption, and the truth of who Jesus is.
‘Idolatry’ doesn’t mean “the worship of a carved statue,” such that anything short of that isn’t quite idolatry, or isn’t “true” idolatry. Idolatry has one meaning: putting something above God. That something could be a statue or a mountain or something in the skies… or it could be your favorite NFL team or your TV. All of these are “true idolatry”, if you put them ahead of God in your heart.
That being said, nothing “changed in our nature.” We still put things above God. We’ve just gotten a bit more sophisticated at it.
Does anyone know any resources I can look at to help explain this?
Introduction to the Prophets, by Leclerc, is a book I would recommend. It’s a pretty comprehensive survey of OT prophets. Offhand, I don’t recall if it deals with interpretations of prophecies in a New Covenant context, but you’ll walk away from it knowing a lot more about the prophets and their prophecies.
In a way, you could say that the condemnation of society for immorality and lack of faith is universally applicable to all civilization. If you look hard enough, there’s always something to nitpick society about, but that’s SJW and Protestant territory, so I’d caution against taking it too far.
You can use the condemnations though as a mirror for your own sins though. None of us are perfect, and the judgment of the sins condemned by the Prophets shows us the way God views sin in his children. The nation God targets most in all the prophetic books is Isreal, his people who fell away from worshiping the very God who laid his blessing on them. So we Christians ought to be the most honestly self-inspecting of all.
Times change. Societies change. As Gorgias so clearly put it, idolatry is loving, desiring some THING, some created good, some worldly object more than God himself.
Ponder the mania for TV shows such as American Idol. Celebrity. The mania for sports (when we see lectors wearing team jerseys), bigger houses, cars, physical beauty - you name it. There is plenty of idolatry by way of materialism.
As stated above by others, idolatry is exceedingly rampant today. It is the worshipping of a creature rather than the Creator. I’d recommend Elizabeth Scalia’s book Strange Gods for more on how that manifests itself in modern life.
As for what we can get from the OT prophets, we can get LOTS! The OT is the story of God’s work in history that culminated with the Incarnation. Without the OT, the NT makes a “disjointed story” as Msgr. Ronald Knox said. The prophets didn’t just speak of the coming Messiah. In fact, as you read through them, you realize that they didn’t actually do much of that, and what they did wasn’t always seen as such until later, when seen in the light of Christ.
C.S. Lewis once wrote that one of the great things about frequent reading of the OT is that we come to see how much of a “tissue of quotations” of the OT the NT really is. All of “the Law and the Prophets” speak of Christ. Think of how impoverished the Church’s meditation on the Passion of our Lord would be without the Suffering Servant of Isaiah. What would Pentecost mean if God hadn’t promised through Joel that he would “pour out [his] Spirit upon all flesh?”
Also, the understanding of justice that we have is very much informed by the prophets. They spoke a GREAT DEAL about justice, both among people and justice in the sense of what we owe toward God. And they promised a Sacrifice that would be offered all over the world, greater than the blood of all the animals offered at the Temple in Jerusalem. Christ in the Eucharist.
Finally, even much of the prophecy of Christ and His work will be fulfilled only at the Second Coming and in the life of the world to come. So, there’s much to be gleaned in that sense, too.
As far as a resource to help you, I would recommend the Navarre Bible volumes on the Major and Minor Prophets.
I strongly encourage you not to neglect the Old Testament. It is a wonderful treasure and, though it can be difficult to understand parts of it or to glean meaning from it, I can assure you it will greatly reward you for your efforts.
“You have been told, O mortal, what is good,
and what the Lord requires of you:
Only to do justice and to love goodness,
and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 (NABRE)