Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What To Do With The Prophets - An Age Old Question With The Wrong Answer Again

The Minor Prophets Speak to Today 

What To Do With The Prophets - An Age Old Question With The Wrong Answer Again


Because of your great sin and hostility,
    you say, “The prophets are crazy
    and the inspired men are fools!”

Today's comments are limited to Hosea 9:7b. Next week I will address an example of verse 8. The week after next, because this passage is so important, I will bring the whole of this teaching together set in the context of verse 7a and  verse 9.


What to do with the prophets?

Let me make clear I am talking about modern prophetic voices, not the prophets of scripture. We know what to do with the prophets of scripture -- heed their warnings which were written down as examples for us on whom the fulfillment of the ages has already come.

What to do with the prophets is a question as ancient as God's people. The answers, while varied, have been repeated over and over throughout history.

1.     Kill them!

Kings, courtiers, even the people of God as a group, have killed many prophets and called for the death of many more. Jezebel, yes, a woman, pledged to kill Elijah. She did not succeed. Her beef? He spoiled her fun and opposed her actions when evil.

King Ahab apparently killed several hundred prophets and sent other hundreds into hiding in cave surreptitiously cared for by his own trusted aid. 

Jesus laid this accusation against the Pharisee, "Your forefathers killed the prophets."

2.     Control them!

Balak tried to by off Balaam but God grabbed the prophet's tongue and made the truth come out anyway. However, Balak managed to corrupt the prophet enough that, speaking purely from the flesh, Balaam laid out a plan to spiritually undermine Israel. That plan became quite effective.

A Syrian king tried to kidnap a prophet and got his troop burned by fire from heaven several times. He failed to stop the prophet from revealing his secret plans to Israel.

Jeremiah was thrown into a well to die, but when rescued he was force to go with the people to Egypt. The  very place he had warned the people against making an alliance with, or even against fleeing their to save their lives.

3.     Call them liars!

Kings called them liars, but their prophecies came true. False prophets said the prophets' advice was crazy, certainly not from God, and spoke prophecies that the people wanted to here, wanted to believe. The people often murmured against the prophets and because they had not received what they wanted called the prophets deceivers and liars. This especially happened when the prophets called them to sexual morality or spoke against the women's household idols and goddesses.

4.     Prove them liars!

King after king, crowd after crowd, refused to listen and built up their defenses or modified their culture and religious practices in ways designed to prevent punishments prophesied or in ways designed to buy God's favor. Sometimes things seems to go their way, even for years. The prophet would look like a fool. A man who didn't really hear from God. But, in the end, the people were the ones proven wrong, the people and rulers or their children and grandchildren suffered.

5.    Claim there are no more prophets!

This I consider the more pernicious decision about what to do with the prophets. When God has not spoke through a prophet voice for an extended period of time, or when God has stopped providing written scriptures through the prophets, the religious scholars have more than once declared that there are no more prophets. Prophets were only for times now past and God does not need to speak to us with prophetic voices anymore.

You will note that the Jewish scriptures stopped being recorded over two thousand years ago. After 400 years without a strong prophetic voice, the scholars and religious leaders declared that prophecy was dead. Now this became a bit of a problem when God sent prophetic messages such as in the Maccabean times and, while they were not sent to add to scripture, they had messages that spoke God's words for him.

This was a big problem when John the Baptist came on the scene. If he was speaking from God, they would have to answer to God for rejecting his message.

Before the fall of Jerusalem, Josephus says there were Christian prophets walking the walls of Jerusalem warning the people to flee. The Jewish leaders were saying stay, fortify, and fight there are no more prophets. Don't listen to these men. Jerusalem fell.

Now the prophets to the Macabees did not produce scripture. John the Baptist did not produce scripture. Most of the prophets of the New Testament did not produce scripture, though they and or their ministries get mentioned in the scriptures

TODAY -- What are we to do with the prophetic voices among us?

There are many approaches theologically and organizationally among us. These all fall short and as we will see in the next post generally work against God's words for today.

What are we to do with the prophetic voices of today?

Listen and heed them.
Listen and obey God.
Try their words, yes, but then obey them.

The trouble?  We are so out of tune with the voice of God and his Holy Spirit in us that we dismiss God's words and declare the prophets false.

Some things never change!

Photo Credits:
Hamburg Famous Street Preacher by Marnie Pix some rights reserved @

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