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Every generation has had branches of the Church enamored with prophets and prophecy. There is something mystical and intriguing in it all. The prospect of getting secret knowledge, or of having some kind of spiritual authority is a lure just too enticing from some to pass up. It’s been true from the beginning. And when society is in upheaval, or even when it is just our personal lives, in times of hardship, trial, disaster or uncertainty, the so-called prophets and the fascination with getting a “prophetic word” here or there goes off the charts.
But what are God’s prophets really all about? We’ll talk about that today on Through the Word in 2020. I’m your host – Reid Ferguson.
Today’s assignments find us in Luke 8:1-8, 1 Thessalonians 2:-3:5 and 2 Chronicles 22:10-24:22. And it is verse 19 of 2 Chron. 24 that I like to call your attention to today. It is insightful and helpful on 2 fronts. First, it gives us a sense of what constitutes the main part of a true prophetic ministry. And note well, if it fails in this aspect, it is truly suspect. Second, it lays out the burden of those who have such a ministry. To use the vernacular – it ain’t easy.
As one surveys both the Testaments, the prophets always functioned within the framework of the 1st part of vs. 19: “Yet he sent prophets among them to bring them back to the Lord.” The prophet’s primary call was always to confront sin, call for repentance and bring people back into line with God’s plans and purposes. Even when there were predictive elements, the focus was typically either on the disaster to come if they continued in their sin, and/or the blessings promised should they repent – and a reminder of what God intends at the end of all things. Repentance from sin is always the backbone. Not, the kind of prophecy that is more like the amorphous blather of the horoscopes in the local paper. “These testified against them” the text reads.
But the problem then as even now is: “But they would not pay attention.” And here, a prophet has to have some real backbone. For the most typical response to REAL prophecy – with rare exceptions is – “but they would not pay attention.” As God testifies against Israel in its rejection of Isaiah’s prophetic ministry: “For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the Lord; who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.” (Isa. 30:9-11)
Think about it. John the Baptizer who is the last of the great prophets never predicted anything. But he hammered home the need for repentance from sin – and pointed to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. If you want a prophet or to be a prophet – there’s your exemplar. Of him Jesus said he was even more than a prophet – that among those born to women none is greater than John. And he never uttered a syllable of secret knowledge.
Don’t waste a minute of your time, a single calorie of your energy or a penny of your money on any so-called prophet or prophetic ministry that isn’t built around calling people back from their sin, to walk in holiness and fidelity to Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives. That doesn’t have as it’s banner: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.”
God bless, and God willing – we’ll be back tomorrow.