Skip to main content

The Prophets

 

"The world is a proud place, full of beauty, but the prophets are scandalized, and rave as if the whole world were a slum." - Rabbi Abraham Heschel

Several months back, I threw out a seemingly simple question to a small group of us gathered in the fellowship hall:  "Who are our prophets today?"  I was hoping for a quick rat-ta-tat-tat of names from the group, a list of erstwhile voices, artists, and writers who serve as the bur in our cultural saddle and whose voices serve to wake us up.  Instead, I got a lot of blank stares for about thirty seconds, followed by a list of a few names here and there.

Well, I pose the question to you.  Who are our prophets today?  Do we still have them?  Are there any voices in our world who can help clear our foggy vision and help us to see both the grandeur of God and the holy, terrific state of our world?

Not too long ago, I would say the voice of the prophets was strong.  The turbulent times of the 1960's produced a new generation of prophetic voices and imaginations.  The prophetic voice even filtered down to the realm of popular music with everyone from Bob Dylan to Marvin Gaye to the Beatles speaking out.  Today, most musicians shy away from addressing large social ills or injustices, although there are some who are not afraid to speak truth to power (like "The Boss").  Still, most of the prophetic voices live on the margins in America, their voice truly a "voice from the wilderness."  Shane Claiborne speaks and witnesses from the urban deserts of an exiled city just like Jeremiah.  Wendell Berry cries out like a modern day Amos, a mere farmer who proclaims God's word to the nations. 

Most telling, though, is that today we cannot point to any significant prophetic voice.  No Mandela.  No Ghandi.  No Martin Luther King, Jr.  Not even a Doris Day.  What does this say about our society?  Does this mean that we live in a just and equitable world?  Does this mean we've moved beyond idolatry and slavery?

What do you think?   Have we moved beyond the time of the prophets?  Are they too archaic, too scandalizing and zealous for our modern, global world?  If anything, our most recent global prophet was the late Steve Jobs.  But his visions were of utopia through technology, not through moral conversion and social reform.

For that matter, what do you think of the prophetic books in our Bible?  Do you read them?  Like them?  See truth and relevance to our own day and age in them?

Beginning this Sunday in The Word Before Worship, we're going to begin looking more closely at the prophets of the Old Testament.  One of my hopes is that by reading the rants and passionate poetry of the prophets, we'll come to discover all over again why prophecy is such a critical part of God's word to us and why Jesus' earliest followers saw him not only as Savior and Resurrected Lord, but as a prophet - a prophet in the tradition that goes all the way back to Moses.

For now, though, I'll leave you with the question again:  Who are our prophets today?  Think about it.  Maybe there are more than we first recognize, and maybe their voices still hold worth for us today.

Wes

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Acts 3:11-21 - Questions for Reflection & Prayer

This week we continued looking at the story of Peter and John healing a lame man on their way to the Temple (Acts 3).  Indwelled with the Spirit of the Living God, Peter and John are close to the source of all life:  Jesus the Christ.  They are continuing to devote themselves to the habits and practices that will allow the fruits of the Spirit to grow within them, including devoting themselves to times of communal prayer on a daily basis.

Now, the crowds hear this news of the lame man's healing, and they run to see this man and to discover what power or technique has healed the man.  They discover the man standing next to Peter and John and assume that these two are "holy men," something many people were searching for in Jesus' day.  This same search still goes on today.  One way we seek a better life is to seek out celebrities, gurus and human leaders that we can put our faith and hope in.

Question for reflection:  How are we tempted in our culture to put our trust i…

Acts 2:42-47 - Questions for Reflection & Study

This past Sunday, we took a look at Luke's first summary passage in the story of Acts:  chapter 2, verses 42-47.  Here, Luke is presenting a billboard of what the Church looks like at its best.  He is trying to convince Theophilus that Christianity is worth his attention. 

The early Church captures what all of us are looking for, whether we know it or not.  This is a close community that truly cares for one another, where everyone truly is seen as a brother and sister, and where no one person is considered more or less important as the other.  Needs are being met.  There is joy in their fellowship. 

Take a moment to think about a time in your life when you experienced the joy and blessing of a deep, loving community?  Where was it, and what made this community so different?  What role did you play in this community?
Luke tells us the disciples "devoted themselves" to four essential practices.  The Greek word for "devoted" is one that is often used in the context…

Acts 5:1-11 - Questions for reflection & prayer

This past Sunday we looked at one of the more unsettling stories in the Book of Acts:  the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira.  As shared by Luke, this couple sold a piece of land and then proceeded to bring only a portion of the profit to the apostles - laying it at their feet for the good of the community.  However, what appeared to be their grave mistake (pun intended) was their collusion in claiming to have brought all the proceeds to the apostles when - in fact - they were keeping some back for themselves.  Peter announces first to Ananias the Lord's judgment, followed by a similar verdict being handed down to Sapphira a short time later.

Seen by itself, this is a strange story, but it begins to make more sense when we see it as "part of the whole."  The story of Ananias and Sapphira comes right after we hear once again of the community's unity and generosity, including their willingness to share their own goods and resources to take care of one another (ch. 4).  Th…