Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be prophets

The Word for today:
Jonah 3, 4

Q. How can Jonah be a prophet if he never predicted the future?
A. A prophet predicted the future to establish his validity as God's spokesman. At some point, Jonah--and all the Old Testament prophets--had to predict the future in order to prove to the people that he was God's prophet.

This proving process is described in Deuteronomy 18:20-22. Once his validity was established in this way, then he started prophesying.

Prophesying has little to do with predicting the future. It has everything to do with telling the unvarnished truth. The prophetic voice speaks God's eternal truth to a given generation. The prophetic voice reveals our sin and folly and hypocrisy, and warns of their consequences.

Unwilling to face the truth, we shoot the messenger. The Biblical prophets were almost all killed. The Bible's greatest prophet--who not only spoke the truth but is the Truth--was put to death on a cross, because his very life was an indictment of mankind's heart of darkness.

The prophet's cry of "Repent" is the cry of a man who so loves his generation that he will face hatred, rejection, and even death to turn hearts back to God. The cry of "Repent" comes straight from the heart of God, who so loved the world that he cried "Repent" all the way to the cross.

It just may be that the man behind that uncompromising and condemnatory voice loves your life more than his own. We don't kill our prophets today in the USA, but many a talented man has given up being held in esteem by the world in order to be held in esteem by God. Many present-day prophets teach or preach for a pittance in nondescript churches on forgotten corners somewhere. They are dead to the world and the world is dead to them (1). No prophet will ever be elected senator or president, or chosen "Man of the Year" in our grand republic.

Be warned that not every teacher or preacher who can spout Bible verses and turn a phrase is a prophet. Many of the most "successful" authors and pulpiteers are no more than profiteer$.

As mentioned above, the Old Testament prophets had to prove their validity before presuming to speak God's word. That's because the Bible was not yet complete. It was being formed as they spoke and wrote!

Now that we have the complete Bible, the test of the prophet is his adherence to scripture: Does he/she speak God's whole Word, balancing God's grace and his judgment? Is his/her emphasis on Christ, crucified (2)--the cost and remedy of sin.

Listen to the voice of the prophets as you read them. Some day, if you are brave enough and true enough, God might hand-pick you and put you on a forgotten corner somewhere to howl "Repent" into the wasteland.

But I wouldn't let Mom in on your career aspirations just yet. She so very much has her heart set on a lawyer.

(1) Galatians 6:14/GNT; (2) 1 Corinthians 1:23, 2:2

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