The Prophets As Covenant Enforcers: Illustrated In Zephaniah -- By: John A. McLean

Journal: Michigan Theological Journal
Volume: MTJ 05:1 (Spring 1994)
Article: The Prophets As Covenant Enforcers: Illustrated In Zephaniah
Author: John A. McLean

The Prophets As Covenant Enforcers: Illustrated In Zephaniah

John A. Mclean

Scholars from all points on the theological spectrum have recognized for many decades the relationship of the prophets to Israel’s covenant law.1 John Bright recognized that the major points of prophetic criticism were “the worship of foreign gods and the violation of’ covenant law.’2 He argued that the prophets “represent a reform movement whose aim it was to reawaken memory of the now largely forgotten Sinaitic covenant..”3 Leon Wood concurred: “ The main task of’ the prophets, then, was reformation. They wanted the people to turn from what they were doing in their4 sinful practices back to the teachings of the Law.” Herbert B. Huffmon, in his germane article, on this subject, illustrated various forms of the5 prophetic “lawsuit” approach against the nation. Richard V. Bergren has

identified twenty-five categories of mosaic covenant legislation that was prosecuted in the prophets.6 The core of the mosaic covenant prosecution has been recognized from three major biblical passages under the heading of blessings and cursings. Douglas Stewart states: “The kinds of blessings that will come to Israel for faithfulness to the covenant are found especially in Leviticus 26:1–13, Deuteronomy 4:32–40, and 28:1–14. But these blessings are announced with a warning: if Israel does not obey God’s law, the blessings will cease. The sorts of curses (punishments) that Israel may expect if it violates the Law are found especially in Leviticus 26:14–39, Deuteronomy 4:15–28, and throughout Deuteronomy 28:15–32:42.”7

There is also a need to recognize other elements in prophetic covenant enforcement beyond the extensive focus on mosaic prosecution in these passages. The prophets enforced other covenants such as the Abrahamic, Davidic, Palestinian, and Aaronic/Levitical as well as promising future blessings that could only be fulfilled with the

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