6.2 The Prophets -- External Focus
The prophets represent a transition in the racial teachings of the Bible in several ways:
a. the threat of foreign invasion meant that for the first time Gentiles became a significant factor in God's plan. In the history books, through 1 Kings 10, the foreign nations were on the periphery of God's plan, they were obstructions and nuisances. The focus of attention was on building up and purifying Israel, and expelling all foreign influences. In the books of the prophets, however, there is extensive treatment of the role of other countries to bring about God's chastisement of Israel, as well as His judgment upon her enemies.
b. a futuristic element enters the teachings, paralleling and contrasting with the hostility to outsiders. The prophets are "bifocal" - railing against contemporary idolatry, but also seeing a coming day of righteousness and peace. "In that great day" in the future, some form of salvation will be made available to the Gentiles. The foreign nations will not only suffer judgment along with Israel, but will likewise have a share in God's work of redemption.
c. the failure of God's political plan in Israel -- ie. to rule the nations from a glorified and holy Zion -- does not doom His world plan as expressed through the prophets. What man cannot achieve through faithful obedience to the Law, God Himself will accomplish through a righteous king. The glory and perfection of His future reign are juxtaposed with the hopelessness of the present time. Yet these two streams will merge: there will be a fusion of the long march of Israel with the Kingdom of God on earth -- when the biological offspring of David accedes to the throne of the world. At that time,
the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Isa 11:9).
Meanwhile, the barbarians are hammering at the walls of the city.