"Seek the LORD while he may be found! Call on him while he is near! Let the wicked man abandon his way. Let an evil man abandon his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will show him mercy. Let him turn to our God, because he will abundantly pardon" (Isaiah 55.6-7 EHV).
Time and time again, the Old Testament prophets called Israel away from their sin and back to God. Like us, they continually needed to be reminded of their need for repentance. What was their sin? While the specific sins of Israel were many, in general, Israel was guilty of abandoning God to be just like the nations that surrounded them.
From the time they entered the Promised Land to the close of the Old Testament, Israel forsook God's commands and followed the sinfulness of their neighbors. The book of Judges chronicled the downward spiral of Israel, from a nation who pledged allegiance to Yahweh to a nation who indulged in the wickedness of their peers, to the point where "every man did whatever was right in his own eyes" ( Judges 21.25 EVH). The history captured in Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles drives home the point even more. Then, when we reach the prophets, their refrain is unmistakable--repent, forsake your sin, and return to God. It is the refrain of Lent to each of us.
Personally, we all struggle with our faithfulness to God. Instead of following God, our actions tend to imitate our neighbors, those we interact with on social media, or though we watch on TV. Corporately, as the Church, we also struggle with the temptation to be like the nations around us, just like Israel. In both cases, the call of the prophets is for us.
Walter Bruggemann writes frequently to the Church, reminding her of her call to be faithful to God. Regarding the current state of the Church as a whole, he writes:
I believe the crisis in the U.S. church has almost nothing to do with being liberal or conservative; it has everything to do with giving up on the faith and discipline of our Christian baptism and settling for a common, generic U.S. identity that is part patriotism, part consumerism, part violence, and part affluence.
-- Walter Bruggemann, A Way Other Than Our Own
An interesting thought, no? Bruggemann doesn't make the connection between Israel and us, but I think the parallels are clear...and that is just one reason why the Old Testament prophets are so incredibly relevant and important for us today.