Old Testament prophets were about as popular as an air-raid warning. They jarred the nerves and forced a difficult choice: Put life on hold and run for cover, or take a chance that it was a false alarm and continue life as normal. “Judgment might not fall on us anyway; we’re in a safe place.”
Our responses to God’s warnings depend on our presuppositions. Do we think of God and His spokespeople as killjoys? Do we believe that God has absolute standards and a defined will? Can His seers really see into such things?
The Bible is packed with examples of prophetic proclamation of God’s will and ways, and of discipline predicted and dispensed. Clearly, the prophets were effective watchmen from God, held responsible to sound a warning alarm on the shofar. Joel’s words are an example:
Blow a trumpet in Zion,
And sound an alarm on My holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
For the day of the Lord is coming;
Surely it is near,
A day of darkness and gloom,
A day of clouds and thick darkness.
As the dawn is spread over the mountains,
So there is a great and mighty people;
There has never been anything like it,
Nor will there be again after it
To the years of many generations.
A fire consumes before them
And behind them a flame burns.
The land is like the garden of Eden before them
But a desolate wilderness behind them,
And nothing at all escapes them. (Joel 2:1-3, see also Jer 4:5-8; 6:1, 17; Ezek. 33:1-9; Hos. 8:1)
Prophecies of judgment offer more than an early warning; they point to an escape route. Always God wants His people to see the way back to Him through repentance.
When the wicked turns from his wickedness and practices justice and righteousness, he will live by them. (Ezek. 33:19)
The trumpet sounds a warning that all is not well and it points to restoration.