Thursday, October 25, 2007

I’d like to write about the prophets of God. I’m thinking about writing a book called, “the God of prophets”…we shall see. I’d love your feedback!

No person is less liked than a prophet of God. They are strange, extreme, cutting and offensive. Many if not most end up killed by their contemporaries…yet adored by future generations. They are compulsive people who live with a bizarre tunnel vision. They come off as moody, aggravated and agitated. They often have tempers and little patience. They live in a strict world which is black or white, right or wrong, good or bad. They push and prod and are never satisfied…or they run away from their calling because of their complete frustration with the people God has sent them to warn.

The prophets of God are usually just about half crazy. They are men like John the Baptist whose voice would boom from the desert at the crowds gathering to hear him…compare this message with seeker sensitivity, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire!” Or men like Martin Luther who stood against the most powerful man in the world, the bishop of Rome…the Pope…and said, “I feel much freer now that I am certain the pope is the Antichrist.” Or men like Obadiah who cry out against the mighty descendants of Esau on behalf of God, “See, I will make you small among the nations; you will be utterly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’ Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” declares the LORD!”

It would always be easy to blow off a prophet simply as a judgmental jerk who thinks he is better than everyone else and loves to proclaim it. The often times shocking reality of a prophet is his constant self loathing. No one is ever harder on the prophet than the man himself. Many people do not understand how a prophet can doubt his own salvation…but many if not most did and still do. The great Apostle Paul described himself as the “chief of sinners”, a “wretched” and “weak” man. Isaiah, when gaining a glimpse of the heavenly throne room of Almighty God began to fall apart, cursed himself by saying “woe to me” and declared himself a “man of unclean lips”, “I’m undone”. David said of himself, “I am a worm and not a man”. These men, throughout history, wrestled with God and hated themselves. The obsessive drive within them to continue their mission is therefore clear evidence of God’s divine call upon their lives. Jeremiah described the compulsion this way, “If I say, “I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” These self hating men, who today’s psycho-babblers would either try to medicate or would at least attempt to make them feel better about themselves, where amazingly motivated, single minded and compelled with an inner drive to preach God’s Word despite opposition, ridicule, violent threats and violent actions against them. It is hard to imagine such self hating people being so driven to continue their work apart from the driving unction and at times inspiration of the Holy Spirit. These men where by no stretch of the imagination judgmental, if by judgmental we mean someone views their spirituality as the standard by which they judge others. If that is what is meant by “judgmental” then the prophets were certainly last in that line…they basically hated themselves and yet where consumed with the proper worship, adoration and complete renown of the Almighty.

It is often casually remarked that it was a bad sign when you saw the prophet walk into town. Unlike the false prophets paraded around on “Christian” television, true prophets of God are usually thought of as the bearers of bad news. Depending on what we mean by “bad” and from whose perspective we are representing, maybe such a generalization is warranted. Certainly if you rejoice in wickedness and you learn that your wickedness is about to come to a swift and violent end…I suppose to you what the prophets had to say might be called “bad news”. These men warned people of terrible things that where about to fall upon their heads…the wicked do not exactly appreciate the interruption caused by this preaching. The prophets call out the hypocrites, rebuke kings and reprimand sinners, at the leading of and on behalf of God. But for the redeemed to relegate the prophets as simply the moody bearers of “bad news” truly unveils our hidden repulsion at the thought of righteous vengeance against wickedness, ungodliness and worldly lusts.

Do you ever find yourself, as you read through the Bible, wondering how a man such as the prophet Jeremiah could, without divine rebuke, pray, “But, O LORD Almighty, you who judge righteously and test the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you I have committed my cause.” When John the Apostle saw the future utter destruction of Babylon the Great, a voice from heaven is heard telling the heavenly audience that “she” will be given back DOUBLE portion of the grief and torture she gave…that this double portion is to be mixed in her own cup! John sees all this grief and all this complete destruction and then hears this voice say to the heavenly audience, “Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you.’ ” We are to rejoice over her? We are to rejoice in seeing this terrifying judgment? Does that seem strange to you? That we will rejoice? When you read the Psalms is it strange to your eyes to read David call on God to, “Arise, O LORD! Deliver me, O my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked!”

We do not want to live in a system without justice, without judgment and without vengeance. Any god who would passively watch evil manifest itself and not take decisive action not only to prevent its further abuse, but does not return the pain it has already caused…is a devil. Our God will right every wrong and make every crooked thing straight when and how He sees fit. We have within us a common sense in which we feel that a sinner ought to be paid back for their sin. Many times we assume such thoughts are not Christian and are fleshly. Perhaps they are. But perhaps some of the time such indignation and assumption of proper vengeance is a reflection of the image of God in us. We are never told that vengeance or judgment is wrong…we are simply told that it is not ours to take. No, vengeance is God’s to take…and we may rejoice in knowing that He will, like a thief in the night, swoop down and suddenly take it. In the mean time it is our business to love our enemies and to pray for those who despitefully use us. It is our business to forgive and work for good. To warn the wicked of their impending doom and pointing to their only hope of salvation…Christ Jesus. It is our business to not repay evil with evil but return good. Not only in our actions…but in our wishes, thoughts and desires as well. We are not God and lay no claim to such things as vengeance or retribution.

This of course is a very hard pill to swallow in such a tolerant culture. It seems the culture has infected our churches in this regard. Our culture may tolerate wicked lifestyles, many religions may tolerate wicked lifestyles…but God has not, does not and will not ever tolerate anything that is not in accord with His will. We confuse His patience with tolerance and by doing so assist the ungodly in heaping more wrath upon themselves…shame on us.

In order to experience the humiliation God desires for us, in order to experience the depth of Spiritual worship God desires for us and in order to experience the depths of peace God desires for us we must appreciate and embrace the message of His prophets. Their messages blind our fallen eyes, infuriate our selfish sensibilities, debase our pride and expose our hypocrisies…but if embraced…will plunge us into riches beyond our imagination.

2 comments:

na said...

AWESOME! I am excited to learn more about these prophets! Thier stories in the Bible always inspire me, and I am sure this study on them will as well...I am excited to see the light you shed on the Holy Scriptures.

Love ya!

irreverend fox said...

thanks hun...

of course...it is the Holy Scriptures that will shed light on me! lol

I know what you mean, teaching is a spiritual gift and glory goes to God if anyone learns anything here.

thanks na!