Have you noticed how the first 24 chapters of Isaiah are dominated by warnings, oracles, and graphic descriptions of God’s judgment? Was Isaiah just having a bad day (or decade)?
Take a quick tour through other Major and Minor Prophets – or even the Book of Revelation – and you’ll notice a similar pattern. Most of their time is spent on calls to repentance and warnings of judgment. In comparison, precious little time is spent on joy and restoration.
Thumbing through Alva McClain’s classic book The Greatness of the Kingdom this afternoon, I came across a golden nugget that explains why prophecy is so lopsided:
Scripture generally gives more space to its warnings of judgment than to its descriptions of the joys of heaven. And this is wholly reasonable. On our highways, men do not ordinarily put up signs telling the traveler that ‘This is a safe road’; but for the most part all such signs are those of caution and danger. The world in which we live is one of sin and hazard and death. Some day all this will be ended, but until that day we should be thankful for the abundance of warnings concerning wrath and judgment to come.
A good reminder for preachers, as well. We must not only encourage, but reprove and rebuke. Yet always “with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2).