PROPHETS and POSERS
We need to remember that Jesus said his people slew the prophets (Matthew 23:29-31) but there's something of a wonder in the fact that any of them survived as long as they did.
I know better than to say they were held in awe by everyone—they weren't; still, in some of them there was the capacity to put the fear of God in leaders and kings alike—didn't powerful Ahab call Elijah the "troubler of Israel"? We're to understand that Jeremiah worked as God's prophet for something like forty years, saying outrageous things about the leaders and the people, predicting the certain downfall of the city, the temple and the nation. Even though he had a few influential friends, how he managed to survive is something of a mystery.
Then there was this southerner from the wilderness around Tekoa who came and dared to speak against the Northern Kingdom (Israel), verbally tearing it to shreds—priest and layman, men and women, leaders and supporters. The wonder is they didn't lynch Amos straight away; but the worst he got (on record) was a rebuke from the court-prophet: "Go practice your prophesying elsewhere!" It appears there were some prophets you just didn't mess with.
I sometimes think that for a while we see in a man or a woman the face of God, the compelling proof (though we can't quite put our finger on how we know it with such certainty) that in them God is among us. While we do, we give them the respect that that warrants. After a while, if familiarity does not breed contempt it utterly destroys awe and we shrug at such prophetic type people; we grow tired of them. Perhaps it's more accurate and truthful to say we grow tired of the God in them who confronts us. (We don't kill prophetic figures any more—we utterly and knowingly ignore them to death.)
Of course there's always a host of us who don't recognize a prophet (or prophetic figure) as God's approach to us. Prophets didn't always come wrapped in camel skin and have lumps of rough leather for shoes and they didn't always build little model forts and attack them from behind big flat iron griddles or walk around naked (or virtually so) for a couple of years. Sometimes they showed up a young boy who didn't really want the job or an ordinary husband whose wife, after a while, grew tired of him and looked for adventure with other men. It was a rare thing when the people saw a prophet, confessed he was indeed God's servant and consciously chose to murder him. No, they always had "good" reasons for doing away with him. You know what I mean; he was undermining people's faith, destabilizing the government or promoting heresy—something like that.
Just the same, the way some of them spoke they were simply asking for trouble. It wasn't only what they said, it was the way they said it! Rabbi Heschel was of the opinion that to the prophet "everyone else appears blind…everyone appears deaf. No one is just; no knowing is strong enough, no trust complete enough. The prophet hates the approximate, he shuns the middle of the road."
In many ways the speech of some of them was "over the top" and was bound to be misunderstood or dismissed as outrageous. What made Jeremiah or Ezekiel think they'd get away with saying there wasn't a single righteous person in the nation (Ezekiel 22:30, Jeremiah 5:1)? But these men didn't care much that they wouldn't be invited back to spearhead conferences or hold meetings! If one of us had gone to the Baptist or Micah and asked him to soften his speech he'd probably have pushed past us saying, "And you're who?" They hadn't entered a popularity contest and while the message was part of them they didn't choose their message—sometimes they didn't even like it! Habakkuk, Jeremiah, Amos, and Ezekiel all explicitly took issue with the vision they were given—"surely not, Lord!" Even the tough Amos, whose speech peels the skin off the roof of your mouth just reading it, cried our (7:5), "Sovereign Lord, I beg you stop!"
What's the difference between a pulpit comedian and a prophet? What's the difference between a skilled homiletician and a prophet?
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, the abiding word.com.
"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY" A Pattern For Would-Be Believers (1:12-17) INTRODUCTION 1. Are you someone who has contemplated becoming a Christian, but wondered... a. Would God forgive you for the terrible things you've done? b. Could you live the kind of life God desires of you? 2. There is a man who serves as an example for you... a. Of the grace and mercy that is available for you b. Of the faith and love that you can have in Jesus [His name is Paul, and in 1Ti 1:12-17 he describes how his own conversion is "A Pattern For Would-Be Believers." First, in...] I. DEMONSTRATING THE GRACE OF OUR LORD A. NOTE PAUL'S FORMER LIFE... 1. He was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent (violent) man - 1Ti 1:13 a. Consenting to the death of Stephen - Ac 7:58; 8:1 b. Making havoc of the church in Jerusalem - Ac 8:3 c. Persecuting Christians even to Damascus - Ac 9:1-2 d. Persecuting even to the point of imprisonment and death - Ac 22:4 e. Enraged against Christians, compelling them to blaspheme - Ac 26:9-11 2. His goal was to destroy the church of God - Ga 1:13 3. He was indeed "chief" of sinners - 1Ti 1:15 -- Yet the grace of the Lord was "exceedingly abundant" and he obtained mercy! - 1Ti 1:14,16 B. WHAT ABOUT YOUR LIFE...? 1. Yes, you have committed sin - Ro 3:23; Jm 2:10 a. Perhaps you are a good, moral person like the Eunuch, Cornelius, or Lydia b. Perhaps you are a murderer and blasphemer like Paul was 2. In either case, Jesus came to into the world to save sinners - 1Ti 1:15 a. The grace of the Lord is exceedingly abundant - 1Ti 1:14 b. The Lord is long-suffering - 1Ti 1:16; 2Pe 3:9 -- Will you not let Paul's pattern move you to believe on the Lord for everlasting life? - 1Ti 1:16 [There is no sin too great, no crime so heinous, that cannot be forgiven by the grace of the Lord! The conversion of Paul serves as evidence that no matter who you are or what you've done, you can be saved. Paul also serves as a pattern...] II. DEMONSTRATING THE FAITH AND LOVE IN JESUS A. NOTE PAUL'S SERVICE TO CHRIST... 1. The Lord put Paul into the ministry - 1Ti 1:12 a. To bear witness to what he had seen - Ac 26:16 b. To turn people from the power of Satan to God - Ac 26:18 2. He became a pattern of the faith and love that is possible in Christ - 1Ti 1:14 a. Because he cooperated with the grace of God - 1Co 15:9-10 b. Striving to be the best he could be - Php 3:12-15 c. Learning contentment, finding strength - Php 4:11-13 -- Paul provides the example of a life of faith and love that leads to peace - Php 4:9 B. WHAT ABOUT YOUR LIFE...? 1. If you are already a Christian a. Are you experiencing the faith and love that is Christ? 1) Faith that comes from the Word of God? - Ro 10:17 2) Love that comes by being taught of God? - 1Th 4:9-10 b. Are you following the pattern of Paul...? 1) Cooperating with the grace of God to turn from sin? 2) Ever pressing onward toward spiritual maturity? 3) Faithful to whatever ministry the Lord places upon you? 2. If you are not yet a Christian a. Why not take the step of faith like Paul did? 1) He did what the Lord commanded him - Ac 22:16 2) He started anew, walking by faith and not by sight - 2 Co 5:7 b. Why not accept the love that is available in Jesus? 1) The love of God, your heavenly Father - 1Jn 4:10,11 2) The love of Jesus, your wonderful Savior - Jn 15:9,10 -- Will you not let Paul's pattern move you to grow in faith and love? - 1Co 11:1 CONCLUSION 1. Note that Paul was moved to respond to the grace of the Lord in two ways... a. He thanked Jesus Christ - 1Ti 1:12 b. He praised God - 1Ti 1:17 2. Shall we not respond to the grace of God in the same way...? a. Thanking God by rendering obedience to the gospel of Christ? b. Praising God by growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ? Then perhaps the Lord can also use us as "A Pattern For Would-Be Believers"... - cf. 1Ti 4:12
The World English Bible
Haggai 1, 2
Hag 1:1 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, the Word of Yahweh came by Haggai, the prophet, to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying,
Hag 1:2 "This is what Yahweh of Armies says: These people say, 'The time hasn't yet come, the time for Yahweh's house to be built.' "
Hag 1:3 Then the Word of Yahweh came by Haggai, the prophet, saying,
Hag 1:4 "Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies waste?
Hag 1:5 Now therefore this is what Yahweh of Armies says: Consider your ways.
Hag 1:6 You have sown much, and bring in little. You eat, but you don't have enough. You drink, but you aren't filled with drink. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm, and he who earns wages earns wages to put them into a bag with holes in it."
Hag 1:7 This is what Yahweh of Armies says: "Consider your ways.
Hag 1:8 Go up to the mountain, bring wood, and build the house. I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified," says Yahweh.
Hag 1:9 "You looked for much, and, behold, it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?" says Yahweh of Armies, "Because of my house that lies waste, while each of you is busy with his own house.
Hag 1:10 Therefore for your sake the heavens withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit.
Hag 1:11 I called for a drought on the land, on the mountains, on the grain, on the new wine, on the oil, on that which the ground brings forth, on men, on livestock, and on all the labor of the hands."
Hag 1:12 Then Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of Yahweh, their God, and the words of Haggai, the prophet, as Yahweh, their God, had sent him; and the people feared Yahweh.
Hag 1:13 Then Haggai, Yahweh's messenger, spoke Yahweh's message to the people, saying, "I am with you," says Yahweh.
Hag 1:14 Yahweh stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of Yahweh of Armies, their God,
Hag 1:15 in the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.
Hag 2:1 In the seventh month, in the twenty-first day of the month, the Word of Yahweh came by Haggai the prophet, saying,
Hag 2:2 "Speak now to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, saying,
Hag 2:3 'Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Isn't it in your eyes as nothing?
Hag 2:4 Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,' says Yahweh. 'Be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,' says Yahweh, 'and work, for I am with you,' says Yahweh of Armies.
Hag 2:5 This is the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, and my Spirit lived among you. 'Don't be afraid.'
Hag 2:6 For this is what Yahweh of Armies says: 'Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, the earth, the sea, and the dry land;
Hag 2:7 and I will shake all nations. The precious things of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory, says Yahweh of Armies.
Hag 2:8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine,' says Yahweh of Armies.
Hag 2:9 'The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,' says Yahweh of Armies; 'and in this place will I give peace,' says Yahweh of Armies."
Hag 2:10 In the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the Word of Yahweh came by Haggai the prophet, saying,
Hag 2:11 "Thus says Yahweh of Armies: Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying,
Hag 2:12 'If someone carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and with his fold touches bread, stew, wine, oil, or any food, will it become holy?' " The priests answered, "No."
Hag 2:13 Then Haggai said, "If one who is unclean by reason of a dead body touch any of these, will it be unclean?" The priests answered, "It will be unclean."
Hag 2:14 Then Haggai answered, " 'So is this people, and so is this nation before me,' says Yahweh; 'and so is every work of their hands. That which they offer there is unclean.
Hag 2:15 Now, please consider from this day and backward, before a stone was laid on a stone in the temple of Yahweh.
Hag 2:16 Through all that time, when one came to a heap of twenty measures, there were only ten. When one came to the wine vat to draw out fifty, there were only twenty.
Hag 2:17 I struck you with blight, mildew, and hail in all the work of your hands; yet you didn't turn to me,' says Yahweh.
Hag 2:18 'Consider, please, from this day and backward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, since the day that the foundation of Yahweh's temple was laid, consider it.
Hag 2:19 Is the seed yet in the barn? Yes, the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree haven't brought forth. From this day will I bless you.' "
Hag 2:20 The Word of Yahweh came the second time to Haggai in the twenty-fourth day of the month, saying,
Hag 2:21 "Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, 'I will shake the heavens and the earth.
Hag 2:22 I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms. I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations. I will overthrow the chariots, and those who ride in them. The horses and their riders will come down, everyone by the sword of his brother.
Hag 2:23 In that day, says Yahweh of Armies, will I take you, Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel,' says Yahweh, 'and will make you as a signet, for I have chosen you,' says Yahweh of Armies."
Revelation 13, 14
Rev 13:1 Then I stood on the sand of the sea. I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads. On his horns were ten crowns, and on his heads, blasphemous names.
Rev 13:2 The beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.
Rev 13:3 One of his heads looked like it had been wounded fatally. His fatal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled at the beast.
Rev 13:4 They worshiped the dragon, because he gave his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?"
Rev 13:5 A mouth speaking great things and blasphemy was given to him. Authority to make war for forty-two months was given to him.
Rev 13:6 He opened his mouth for blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his dwelling, those who dwell in heaven.
Rev 13:7 It was given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them. Authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation was given to him.
Rev 13:8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been killed.
Rev 13:9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear.
Rev 13:10 If anyone has captivity, he will go into captivity. If anyone is with the sword, he must be killed. Here is the endurance and the faith of the saints.
Rev 13:11 I saw another beast coming up out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke like a dragon.
Rev 13:12 He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. He makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.
Rev 13:13 He performs great signs, even making fire come down out of the sky to the earth in the sight of people.
Rev 13:14 He deceives my own people who dwell on the earth because of the signs he was granted to do in front of the beast; saying to those who dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast who had the sword wound and lived.
Rev 13:15 It was given to him to give breath to it, to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause as many as wouldn't worship the image of the beast to be killed.
Rev 13:16 He causes all, the small and the great, the rich and the poor, and the free and the slave, to be given marks on their right hands, or on their foreheads;
Rev 13:17 and that no one would be able to buy or to sell, unless he has that mark, the name of the beast or the number of his name.
Rev 13:18 Here is wisdom. He who has understanding, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is six hundred sixty-six.
Rev 14:1 I saw, and behold, the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him a number, one hundred forty-four thousand, having his name, and the name of his Father, written on their foreheads.
Rev 14:2 I heard a sound from heaven, like the sound of many waters, and like the sound of a great thunder. The sound which I heard was like that of harpists playing on their harps.
Rev 14:3 They sing a new song before the throne, and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the one hundred forty-four thousand, those who had been redeemed out of the earth.
Rev 14:4 These are those who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are those who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These were redeemed by Jesus from among men, the first fruits to God and to the Lamb.
Rev 14:5 In their mouth was found no lie, for they are blameless.
Rev 14:6 I saw an angel flying in mid heaven, having an eternal Good News to proclaim to those who dwell on the earth, and to every nation, tribe, language, and people.
Rev 14:7 He said with a loud voice, "Fear the Lord, and give him glory; for the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and the springs of waters!"
Rev 14:8 Another, a second angel, followed, saying, "Babylon the great has fallen, which has made all the nations to drink of the wine of the wrath of her sexual immorality."
Rev 14:9 Another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a great voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead, or on his hand,
Rev 14:10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is prepared unmixed in the cup of his anger. He will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.
Rev 14:11 The smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. They have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.
Rev 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."
Rev 14:13 I heard the voice from heaven saying, "Write, 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.' " "Yes," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors; for their works follow with them."
Rev 14:14 I looked, and behold, a white cloud; and on the cloud one sitting like a son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
Rev 14:15 Another angel came out from the temple, crying with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, "Send forth your sickle, and reap; for the hour to reap has come; for the harvest of the earth is ripe!"
Rev 14:16 He who sat on the cloud thrust his sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.
Rev 14:17 Another angel came out from the temple which is in heaven. He also had a sharp sickle.
Rev 14:18 Another angel came out from the altar, he who has power over fire, and he called with a great voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, "Send forth your sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for the earth's grapes are fully ripe!"
Rev 14:19 The angel thrust his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vintage of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
Rev 14:20 The winepress was trodden outside of the city, and blood came out from the winepress, even to the bridles of the horses, as far as one thousand six hundred stadia.