The Cry Of the Prophets
THIRD QUARTER 2019
SABBATH SCHOOL INSIGHT #5
AUGUST 3, 2019
“THE CRY OF THE PROPHETS”
Micah 6:8. The importance of the personal walk with God is emphasized. We are to walk humbly with Him, and He, of course, is "meek and lowly in heart", so our humility is a part of our heart unity with our God and Creator.
The OT prophets were sent primarily to Israel and Judah. They were beckoning the chosen people back to their calling in God. The people and their leaders were too easily swept up by the idols and lifestyles of the surrounding nations. It was the prophets’ thankless task to urge them to repent, sometimes by reminding them of God’s love for them and His past action on their behalf and sometimes by warning of the consequences if they continued to walk away from God.
OT prophets were not "canonical" in most cases. As we see in I Chronicles 29:29, the prophet Gad is mentioned, and of course his message was a local one for that time, to the people who needed the message, in preparation for oncoming events. This of course is the same way in which we have been gifted with a prophetic voice for these times, preparing us for God's coming.
Reflecting on the passion of the Old Testament prophets, Abraham Joshua Heschel contrasts our complacency with their urgent calls for justice: “The things that horrified the prophets are even now daily occurrences all over the world … Their breathless impatience with injustice may strike us as hysteria. We ourselves witness continually acts of injustice, manifestations of hypocrisy, falsehood, outrage, misery, but we rarely grow indignant or overly excited. To the prophets even a minor injustice assumes cosmic proportions”. – The Prophets (New York: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1962), pp. 3, 4.
Laodicea is a situation of complacency, and God today urges us to repent. We are to do so at the time of the judgment, and thus the OT emphasis on the call for justice still is true today.
The OT places a large emphasis on the care of the poor. We certainly are having major discussions of that today, regarding both the poor already in our country and those impoverished in other areas of the earth. We need to seek the heart of Christ in ministering to human need, while also holding people accountable for their characters, choices, and stewardship.
Amos' ministry was such a call for repentance, and we need to remember Romans 2:4, that the "goodness of God leads us to repentance", as well as remembering that repentance is a gift, and offered to us by a God longing for fellowship with us and a healing of the rift that sin has brought.
The prophets, including Micah, did not hesitate to preach a message of "doom" if the calls to repent were not eventually heeded. The prophets had the courage and love for people to warn them of their danger, and to also present to the people the opportunity to walk with God in love. The link between doing justly, walking humbly, and loving mercy is the link of the heart of God placed within the soul, so that we can have the "Faith of Jesus" and experience Christ in us, the Hope of Glory.
The burden of Ezekiel, as well as all the prophets, was the warning of captivity, of loss of freedom,., of the serious consequences of the degree of rebellion that God's people often demonstrated. Ezekiel 8 shows just how evil God's people had become. and it becomes obvious that God is as interested in caring for the poor, and thus economic stewardship, as the sins we normally express concern for. We often look to Sodom and Gomorrah, and yet, we have all sinned, have all broken the Ten Commandments, and all need the grace of God.
Isaiah’s opening sermon—the first five chapters—is a mix of scathing criticism of the kind of society God’s people had become, warnings of impending judgment in response to their rejection of God and continued wrongdoing, and offers of hope if the people would turn back to God and reform their lives and society. But perhaps the strongest emotion that comes through his words is a sense of grief. Based on his understanding of who God is and what He wants for His people, the prophet is mourning what has been lost, the countless forgotten people who are being hurt, and the judgment that is to come on the nation.
Isaiah continues this pattern through his prophetic ministry. He urges the people to remember what God has done for them. He also offers these people the hope of what God wants to do for them in the future. Thus, they should seek the Lord now, for this renewed relationship with Him will include repenting of their current wrongdoing and changing the way that they treat others.
The concerns of God remain today and the gift of His incredible Gospel are still ours today. We are called to experience fully the character of Christ, to know His love, to sense His heart, and to miss His fellowship. May we choose to walk with Christ.
~Pastor Tom Cusack