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Minister's Minute: The Prophetic Voice

Biblical prophets were individuals God gave the ability and power to point out hard truths.
Hands on bible
A man reading the Holy Bible.

When we contemplate the words “prophet” and “prophecy” we might be inclined to think about one who can tell the future, and convey special insight about what is going to happen. While this captures an aspect of who a biblical prophet was, there is more.

Biblical prophets were individuals God gave the ability and power to point out hard truths.

Can we moderns learn anything from the biblical prophets of old? Yes, much, I would argue. Let us take the prophet Jeremiah, for example. Jeremiah’s career is believed to have extended from the reign of King Josiah in 640 B.C to the Fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.

His message has come to us in the form of the Book of Jeremiah and Lamentations.

When Jeremiah had begun, the Kingdom of Judah, had come through an especially evil and tragic stretch of its history. God would punish Judah for the wickedness of its leaders —including ritual child sacrifice carried out by King Manasseh in his worship of the false god, Moloch. Under such terrible circumstances, Jeremiah could only lament for his people, and tell all who would listen what God was planning.

Jeremiah declared that Judah would be invaded and taken into captivity for seventy years, a divinely inspired message, which stood in sharp contrast to the false prophet who said that everything would be fine and Judah would have nothing to worry about.

Not surprisingly, Jeremiah’s message of imminent divine discipline was rejected by the leaders and the prophet paid a high price for speaking out in the form of beatings and humiliation.

But Jeremiah’s message was not all doom and gloom. Hope lay at the heart of what he was saying: God would bring the exiles back and introduce a “new and everlasting covenant.” Christians believe that this ultimate covenant was brought into being through Jesus Christ.

Looking out into the world, we see that idolatry and oppression remain realities. Wickedness abounds. It is indeed easy to lose hope in divine justice and promise.

Jeremiah teaches us that God will deliver.