“If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,’
there is in my heart as it were a burning fire
shut up in my bones, and I am weary of holding it in,
and I cannot.”
This is one of my favorite verses, although in context of the entire chapter, it’s rough.
What do you think about when you think of a prophet? I suppose most think this is a person who can foresee the future. According to R.C. Sproul, that is but part of his/her job. A big part is to reveal sin, or as R.C. put it, “To tell it like it is.” When you think about it, that’s much of what we read about in the books of the prophets.
This is no small assignment. Who among us enjoys pointing out sin in others, unless we do so for our own sinful purposes (pride)? Why not? I suppose some of the reason is that we don’t want others pointing out our own sin. Another reason might be that it causes us a lot of interpersonal conflict. This is exactly what was happening to Jeremiah in Chapter 20.
You see, the “church” at that time, was no fan of Jeremiah. In fact, the chief officer of the house of the Lord beat Jeremiah and put him in stocks because of his trouble-making. It’s said a beating in that day was 40 lashes. I’ve never received on true lash, but I’m pretty sure I never want to. I’m quite sure the stocks would be no picnic, either. Try to imagine this.
The bulk of Chapter 20 is Jeremiah’s prayer as he tried to make sense of this God-given role. He considers quitting, as we see in verse 9. He is encouraged in verse 11. He praises the Lord in verse 13. He asks for vengeance in verse 12. He also rues the day he was born and curses the man who told his father of Jeremiah’s birth for not killing him in the womb in verses 14-18. This sounds much like Job, doesn’t it?
Listen, the prophets went around exposing the sin of the nation, especially to those in charge. They made a point of it. With determined intentionality. Imagine going to sleep knowing the next morning the Lord will drive you to confront people. Knowing that you could likely be beaten, imprisoned, and even killed. That happened to all of them, you know.
Is the role of the prophet simply a rotten assignment? No doubt, it is rough, but it is not without reward. Truly, the more I taste of the Lord, the more I get from the Lord. What happens here on the earth matters little, provided I am keeping my eyes on Jesus. Even in modern times, we see incredible stories of people standing firm in their faith against incredible persecution. Check out The Voice of the Martyrs (www.persecution.com) sometime. No, the Lord is good no matter the circumstance.
My bible plan has me deep in the prophets right now. I am simply fascinated by these books. However, these books are troublesome when we consider that Paul encourages us all to desire the gift of prophesy (1 Cor. 14:1). Now, I hear people say that prophesy is for building up the church, and so it is (v. 4-5). Is that the only purpose? Certainly, the prophets of old spent a great deal of effort in encouragement, although most of it fell on deaf ears. What about the other things the prophets did, the things they said that got them beaten and killed? I don’t think the modern-day prophet has a one-dimension job description, as we see with Paul as he compares the gift of tongues to prophecy.
1 Corinthians 14:22-25 Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.
Seems to me that there is a bit of the old prophet in the role of the prophet of today.
The world would have us mind our own business. And, it seems to me, many in the church agree. I don’t know about you, but this stuff makes me uncomfortable. I think it’s meant to.
Father, I desire you, not comfort. Use me as you please. (gulp)
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers