Saturday, October 24, 2009

So, You’re Called as a Prophet!

There are so many myths about, relating to “prophesying.” Many are apparently called as a type of divine visionary: prophet—as the times accord, we’re held to see and espouse truth—at times to an overburdening cost which we’d have never predicted. Such is life. But, what is it that makes us living day prophets? Well, there are many things we can learn about it from looking at the prophets of the Old Testament.

1. A Heart Devoted, Fundamentally, to God

Nothing budges unless we first approach the throne of grace appropriately. The prophets of old “loved the Lord, and therefore, they loved his word and ways.”[1] And this is a critical distinction if we read the meaning behind these eleven quoted words, particularly ‘his word and way.’ We can’t sugar-coat our living realities. Devotion to God is total, enthusiastic, willing acceptance of all things, both good and bad.

2. Strong Sense of Calling

No matter our personal inclination for the ministry of truth, this is totally God-initiated and God-selected. It’s not something we can pretend about. There’s no room for square pegs in round holes in doing God’s work; we’re either called or we’re not.

3. Willingness in the Role of Messenger

There are 350 references to, ‘This is what the LORD says,’ in the Bible.[2] We deliver not our own messages, but God’s.

4. Functioning as Forth-teller & Foreteller

Critically, we fit the preponderance of God’s Word and truth to our generation—pointing to evils and injustices and calling people to repent. God’s revealed truth never changes; nor do the times, actually. Only the characters and the context do; and so the prophet must make their forth-telling contemporarily relevant.

Not every contemporary prophet can or readily does see visions of the future, or accurately, though it appears the prevalent theme of the Old Testament Prophets. These foretellers spoke repeatedly of judgment and restoration, in ways to motivate that then-present generation to turn and believe in the one and only living God.

5. The Practical Application of Creativity and Innovation

Of all the prophets we cast our eye over, Ezekiel must have been the weirdest. But, he managed better than most to make his God-given statements of prophesy innovative to say the least. Whether it is parables, song or even sarcasm, prophets use practically creative means to win the attention of those they must speak to.

And finally...

It needs to be said that a vast number of false prophets masquerade as God’s chosen. The key tests are these five factors above. God alone anoints. And the people acquiesce; but at times after the death of the prophet.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

[1] Bill T. Arnold & Bryan E. Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament – A Christian Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies series) (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1999), p. 342.

[2] Arnold & Beyer, Ibid, p. 343.

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